The horse you rode in on

September 28, 2005 | 389 comments
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I’m still trying to scrape my jaw off of the floor after reading some of Adam Greenwood’s comments over at, you know, that other other blog.

Simple question: is any marriage better than no marriage? Specifically, is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage? I don’t think so.

[ADMIN: Update: Some comments have been removed.]

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389 Responses to The horse you rode in on

  1. Adam Greenwood on September 28, 2005 at 9:25 pm

    Sorry, Julie M. Smith. I’m working it up into a post.

  2. Russell Arben Fox on September 28, 2005 at 9:26 pm

    “Simple question: is any marriage better than no marriage? Specifically, is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage? I don’t think so.”

    You’re answering two different questions with one response, Julie, and I think your response is only adequate to one of them. Try it this way: Is any (abusive, drunken, underage, Las Vegas, open, New Agey, shotgun, whatever) marriage better than no marriage? My answer: certainly not. But, on to the next question: Is a (particular, hypothetical, depending on the circumstances, carefully considered and prayed about) non-temple marriage better than no marriage? Considering the fact that your given answer, if broadly accepted, would have meant I wouldn’t have had my grandparents, I must answer: certainly!

    Some women (and men) may feel it their lot, their calling, their burden, their opportunity, their tragedy, call it what you will, to become a Sherri Dew when opportunities for temple marriage pass them by. Others, by contrast, will fall in love and want to get married to good, decent men and women anyway. More power to them. There is a preferred recipe for finding inspiration and blessings in marriage in this world, but there is not only one recipe for doing so.

  3. manaen on September 28, 2005 at 9:27 pm

    As I noted in #69 of that other thread, the Ensign printed an answer two or three decades ago to a sister that couldn’t find LDS-marriage partners where she lived. The answer was, after diligently trying for the ideal, prayerfully to select someone that met our standards, will support her in faith and church activity, etc. (I’ll owe you the reference ’til later).

    Such a sister won’t have a temple marriage here whether she remains single or is inspired to go to Plan B so she will be available for sealing after this life either way. Maybe in either case she will be rewarded with a sealing later for doing the best she could here.

    In the second scenario, she at least has love and companionship now and develops many of the traits that are learned from marriage and from raising children.

  4. Adam Greenwood on September 28, 2005 at 9:33 pm

    Doubly other, huh? Excellent. Perhaps, with thrift and hard work, we can even become Other.

  5. queuno on September 28, 2005 at 9:33 pm

    The “Sunday School answer” is, of course, no marriage, and that a woman who wasn’t able to be married in this life would be taken care of in the next.

    But, I’m a man, and married, so it’s hard to me to really have an concrete life-experience opinion here. Still, sometimes “Sunday School answers” are dead on.

    I have a sister-in-law who married rich/intelligent/non-LDS, and as the years progress, the rest of the family increasingly feels that maybe she regrets (she certainly had every opportunity to find an LDS guy, but there are other issues there). Maybe he’ll eventually join the Church, but as the years pass, it seems increasingly less likely (but hey, maybe his heart hasn’t been softened).

    My father-in-law married intelligent/non-LDS, and struck the jackpot — she got baptized later, she were sealed, and they presided over a mission.

    My aunt married, then divorced, a “great” (at the time) LDS guy who wasn’t worthy to go to the temple. That was a shock to the family at the time. Another aunt told me that Grandpa (who had passed away) commented once that even a non-temple marriage makes you a better person, versus being single forever (but I’ll bet he would have wished the first aunt had married in the temple). In the end, she should have held out, I think.

    Off my mission, I was called to be a stake missionary and taught the new member discussions to a new convert who’d married a member who had grown up in the Church. He later was in a stake presidency. But for every one of him (and I saw a few), I witnessed 10 cases of women who continue to go to Church alone while their non-member husband is at home. The odds are definitely not in their favor.

    My experiences are only anecdotal. But if the recommendation that one should NOT marry outside the temple is to be followed exactly, I’d recommend to my daughter that she not marry, as hard as it may be for her.

  6. J. Stapley on September 28, 2005 at 9:38 pm

    At first, I wan’t sure if you were serious. Now that I think that you are: A non-temple mairrage is better than no marriage. What sort reasoning gets you to a point where you would conclude otherwise?

  7. Katherine on September 28, 2005 at 9:42 pm

    My mother faced the question of non-member marriage or no marriage. She and my dad dated ten years before she finally decided to marry him. I’m glad they did, and although my mom does have some pain about religion and their relationship, I think she is glad to have a husband whom she still loves and enjoys life with 34 years later. (Plus us kids!)

  8. Clark on September 28, 2005 at 10:11 pm

    I was dealing with just that decision in my early 30′s after getting the boot from the singles ward. It is a real issue. My brother is, I’m sure, thinking about that as well. I was fortunate in that I met my wife as I was going to a singles ward against the rules and am now happily married. Looking back at my thoughts from those earlier days, I can fully understand why I was thinking what I was. However from within a marriage now, I’m very glad I didn’t marry outside of the temple. Yet it is a very, very difficult decision. I think that many, especially those who married in their 20′s, can’t quite understand the play of emotions, fears, and loneliness at work. Unfortunately when you also tend to be moved out of the LDS singles scene into a no-man’s land where often non-Mormons are the only real social opportunities, even in Utah, it’s hard to criticize too much. I can but say that the non-Mormon scene holds lots of dangers and isn’t always what it appears. Perhaps it is different elsewhere.

  9. Julie in Austin on September 28, 2005 at 10:12 pm

    J. Stapley et al–

    Honestly, twenty year old non-cited Ensign advice aside, I’m shocked that so many people are OK with this. What’s wrong with a nonTemple marriage? Let me count the ways:

    (1) Your future children are not BIC with the blessings and promises that entails.

    (2) Your children are taught by your own example that temple marriage is not that important.

    (3) Practical issues. I am familiar with these because I have nonmember extended family. Everything from serving wine at dinner, to paying tithing (is a SAHM married to a nonmember who won’t tithe considered to be a full tithe payer? Can she get a temple recommend?), to arguments over use of time, to whether the children will (or, have to) attend church. Will the nonmember parent be willing to make the financial sacrifice for a child to serve a mission?

    (4) There is a real and serious risk that your children will not be active in the Church when they grow up.

    (5) This issue is so huge I am having a hard time breaking it down. Small example: Do you think sabbath observance is important? Then why would you yoke yourself to someone–someone who will have just as much influence over your children as you will–who will go shopping and/or watch football on Sundays? This works for _everything_. Do you think the WoW matters? Do you think reading the scriptures matters? etc.

    Many of you will point out that these things can happen to people who are married in the Temple. This is true, but I believe in playing the odds, and marrying out of the temple doesn’t help your odds.

    Many of you will point out that these risks outweigh the costs of a lifetime of singleness. I will simply disagree. Raising righteous children–not raising children–is the most important thing one can do in this life. It’s hard enough to do, and I’d never deliberately do anything that made it harder.

    Many of you will tell of people who felt inspired to marry nonmembers. I have no dispute with anyone’s personal inspiration. But we are talking about standard operating procedure here. And SOP is that you get married in the temple.

    As long as I’ve kicked over an anthill, let me toss out something else I’ve been thinking of posting on: Why don’t more single, older LDS adopt older children (not babies)? When it comes to playing the odds, seems to me these kids would do a lot better in a home with a single Saint than in a foster home or orphanage. It seems, then, that our single LDS would get to enjoy some, if not all, of the benefits of family life. Again, not that this is ideal, but it seems to me that if we want to bemoan the single state, we’re better off encouraging someone to consider adoption than to consider marrying outside of the temple.

    I’m open to having my mind changed on the issue of nonTemple marriage as preferable to the single state, so shoot away, but I have to admit that I never ever ever thought it would get this much support, esp. from our more conservative brethren and sisters. I’m amazed, honestly.

  10. manaen on September 28, 2005 at 10:36 pm

    9
    Julie, I endorse your idea that older single LDS who are in the right position to adopt, which I’m not, could adopt institutionalized older children. There’s the risk that the older single LDS wouldn’t have developed the skills that will be needed but this still would be better than teh child remaining in the institution. There’s a tendency of self-sufficient aloofness in older institutionalized adoptees, though.

    1) As for children not BIC, your idea of adopting children, instead of bearing them, handles that.
    2) Teaching that the temple isn’t important could be nullified of mitigated by explaining the 20 or 30 years that you first sought a temple mate before receiving inspiration to marry civilly.
    3-end) These are excellent issues to resolve to your satisfaction before the marriage, possibly with the pre-nup understanding that the embedded divorce-upon-death would be advanced to whenever the non-LDS partner ceases to keep these agreements. It’s a matter of supporting rather than just accepting the LDS life.

  11. Sarah on September 28, 2005 at 10:40 pm

    If my options were a) temple marriage plus kids, b) non-temple marriage plus kids, and c) kids without a marriage, I’d be very hard pressed to choose (c) over either of the other two options. If my choices were d) being alone or b) kids without a marriage, I’d probably have a hard time with it, but ultimately choose (b), provided there were no righteous “whole” families for those children to move into.

    But honestly, this isn’t like people are presented with a buffet of choices. You have no choices other than between the two that are available to you at the moment (unless you’re very lucky — but even then, things don’t necessarily work out like that: my mother got three utterly unsuitable marriage proposals the week before she graduated college, and should not have accepted any of them, but most particularly the one she did.) Seriously, most women (and men!) are presented with a) some kind of marriage or b) being alone indefinitely. The way I responded to that choice when I was 18 is different than the way I’d respond today, and if I’m still unmarried in five years (when I’ll be thirty) it’ll probably be completely different all over again. I have to say that were it not for interpersonal issues with the boyfriend in question, I would have married a nonmember even at the age of 19, rather than contemplate eternity alone.

    In any case, please contemplate seriously what exactly lifetime celibacy requires from a person, before blithely (particularly from the position of one who is already married) proclaiming it the only righteous course of action possible, should a temple marriage opportunity not present itself.

    (for those who argue that temple marriage is the only acceptable option: what if a woman is already sealed, but that husband passes away? must she marry a temple-worthy member? if not, why not — and if she must, is it because she’ll be subjected to less football-on-Sundays temptation, or because of some ethereal higher principle regarding proper marriages? does it matter if she’s out of her childbearing years? I’m serious, because strict principles that don’t tolerate “everyone needs to consult God before making such serious life-altering decisions” had better be pretty clearly defined)

  12. GeorgeD on September 28, 2005 at 10:49 pm

    9 J in A

    Couldn’t agree more. There is too much debating specific cases legalistically and too little emphasis on the SOP as you call it. Boyd K. Packer gave a talk to the Correlation Council some years ago on this subject. To the best of my knowledge it has never been officially published but it available on line (Can’t vouch for every word but it sure has his voice in it.) He teaches that the church always teaches its doctrines and policies and individuals make their own choices based on their inspiration (a lot of my summarizing going on here).

    Don’t look for any talks in conference anytime soon about
    1) when to marry outside the temple
    2) how to get to the Terrestrial Kingdom
    3) when to work on Sunday
    4) options for young men who want to play sports rather than serve a fulltime mission
    5) etc. etc.

  13. Over Forty on September 28, 2005 at 11:01 pm

    If an older single woman adopts a child, can she ever be sealed to that child (if she never marries)?

    No, she can’t. That’s why most single women don’t see it as an option.

  14. Julie in Austin on September 28, 2005 at 11:09 pm

    Manean–

    I’m cracking up at the idea of a prenup covering everything from sabbath observance to scripture study. If a nonmember is willing to sign on for all that, s/he might as well get baptized!

    Sarah–Please reread my original comment. I preempt virtually everything that you accuse me of.

    Over Forty–

    I appreciate your point about lack of sealings, but I think if I were in that position, I’d rather accomplish the positive good that would accrue to the child as a result of having a stable, LDS home (as well as the joy of family life that I would have) and leave the question of sealings to work itself out in the future. Since our belief is that a righteous single woman will not be denied a sealing in the future, why would we assume that the kid would be denied that? Again, if we are comparing less-than-ideal situations to see which is best, it seems to me that a lack of mother-child sealing is a small price to pay to provide a familyless child with a mother and a childless woman with a child. I’m not _advocating_ that single LDS adopt, I am just wondering why more don’t consider it.

  15. Over Forty on September 28, 2005 at 11:14 pm

    Julie, if that’s the case, why not marry a non-member? Won’t the sealing “work out in the end” and won’t the righteous single “enjoy the joys of (married and) family life”, including the birth and raising of her own children?

    If a woman marries a non-member and remains faithful, won’t she be sealed to someone in the next life anyway?

    So why not marry whomever one falls in love with?

  16. Aimee Roo on September 28, 2005 at 11:17 pm

    I would say that no marriage at all is better than a bad one. Being married to a good man, I can’t imagine how hard and awful it would be to be married to someone that wasn’t a good person, or that you didn’t have love for. Marriage is hard enough when it is good and you love one another.

    As for the second question, honestly I have a feeling that it depends totally on the people involved. I know people who have gotten married out of the temple and things have been wonderful and worked out towards baptisim. I know many stories to the contrary.

    But then, in either case it will always depend on the people involved. There may even be people who would prefer a bad marriage to no marriage. And there are those who would much rather be single than marry out of the temple. It’s just another wonderful part of having our agency and knowing ourselves well enough to do what is best for us personally instead of what everyone else thinks is best.

  17. J. Stapley on September 28, 2005 at 11:17 pm

    Julie in Austin, thanks for your reply. I’m actually a big fan of Packer and the SOP approach. It’s the old teach the rule and not exception approach. And I agree with you that Temple marriage should be the rule. I’m very grateful to married in the Temple.

    But if you deny that exceptions do exist then many, many people will have very sad lives. If you were a bishop and had a couple that was not temple worthy, yet wanted to get married come to for advice, what would you advise them? Stay single until you are worthy? What if one was pregnant?

    What if someone spent decades looking then fell in love with a non-member?

    To be frank, I doubt that I would have ever not married in the temple until much later in life, were that the case. I would probably give that advice to others as well to assure that they did spend all their resources for the best option. But I will not judge anyone’s choice to marry who they love…now if people get married because they are too juvenile to discern what the difference between love and psychosis…well that is a different topic.

  18. Adam Greenwood on September 28, 2005 at 11:21 pm

    “I’m actually a big fan of Packer and the SOP approach”

    Me too. I don’t think we have very many teenage and young twenties readers, otherwise I’d keep my mouth shut. Am I wrong, readers? Holler.

  19. Melissa on September 28, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    Oh boy, here we go. I have a lot to say about this, but haven’t even been able to get back to my own thread yet today so I’ll postpone most of what I’d like to say for later.

    I do find it strange that you, Julie (of all people) would think that adoption of children by a single sister is a better choice than marrying a good man outside of the Temple, rearing the children of that union together and living together as a family. Three of my closest friends have wed non-member spouses and have successful marriages. Whether one marries in or out of the church, every marriage requires lots of conversation, compromise and negotiation. While there might be more one can take for granted if one marries another member of the church, there are no guarantees. Do you really think that a desire to avoid the hard conversations (about Sabbath observance, tithing, word of wisdom, etc., etc.) that will be required, or a worry about the risk that one might compromise too much as a result of those conversations should be a strong enough reason not to get married at all? Do you really think it is better for someone to live his or her life celibate and alone? I’m just stunned by your comments here. It’s one thing to say that one ought to strive for a temple marriage, that one ought to pray for it and be worthy of it and seek for it. But, to insist that living singly and alone is a worthier option than making a life and a family with another beloved person, even if that other person isn’t Mormon seems not only unimaginably unkind but unsupportable by the LDS doctrine of families. I have to fight hard to resist the urge to suggest that your position represents both a misunderstanding of the Gospel and a narrow perspective on the world.

    I’m sure this will elicit a long and thoughtful response from you, Julie. I’ll look forward to reading it over the weekend when I check back. I’ve overspent my blogging budget yet again and still have many hours of work ahead tonight.

  20. GeorgeD on September 28, 2005 at 11:30 pm
  21. GeorgeD on September 28, 2005 at 11:31 pm

    20 oops wrong thread. Sorry

  22. Geoff J on September 28, 2005 at 11:35 pm

    Specifically, is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage?

    Yes, absolutely.

    I can’t help but remember that none of us are actually sealed to our spouses yet to begin with — we just have a promise of a sealing if we keep every covenant we make in the temple. Then when I remember scriptures like the parable of the ten virgins and I wonder what percentage of our marriages are actually going to end up actually being sealed in the last day top begin with…

  23. yossarian on September 28, 2005 at 11:55 pm

    Is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage?
    Of course. Any marriage that has the requisite respect and love in it is something beautiful. The question itself smacks of chauvinism. It also dismisses the one component that all succesfull marriages have; love. You can’t help who you love and if you love them enough you should marry them, warts and all.
    There, wasn’t that romantic.

  24. Wm Jas on September 28, 2005 at 11:57 pm

    Of course a non-temple marriage (assuming that it’s to a good person you love, etc. etc.) is better than no marriage at all. Roughly 99.9% of the people in this world are not eligible for temple marriage. Are you seriously suggesting that they should all remain single for life?

  25. Mathew on September 29, 2005 at 12:00 am

    A great talk that touches lightly on this subject is Chieko Okazaki’s “Strength in the Savior” given at the General Relief Society Meeting and printed in the November ’93 Ensign.

  26. Julie in Austin on September 29, 2005 at 12:01 am

    Over Forty asks, “If a woman marries a non-member and remains faithful, won’t she be sealed to someone in the next life anyway?”

    Um, yeah, but not the spouse in question if s/he doesn’t convert! (At this point, I will admit, things get a little murky for me. But I am confident it isn’t the same situation as with a child.)

    J. Stapley–

    Where on earth did you get the idea that I deny that exceptions do exist? I state precisely the opposite in my first comment, where I note that I’m not going to argue with anyone’s personal revelation to marry a nonmember! But we are talking about the SOP here, and it isn’t marriage to a nonmember. You then ask, “If you were a bishop and had a couple that was not temple worthy, yet wanted to get married come to for advice, what would you advise them? Stay single until you are worthy? What if one was pregnant?” I’m not sure how this is germane; we are talking about a situation where one person IS temple worthy and the other is not.

    Melissa, I am stunned by your response. Just stunned. I cannot believe that holding Temple marriage to be the ideal is so controversial. I cannot believe that (barring massive personal revelation) a single LDS with any appreciation for what temple marriage means would settle for a civil marriage. To do that is to say: it matters more to me to share my bed and to have companionship than it does to do things in the way the Lord has commanded. Not to mention the risks it brings to one’s children . . .

    Why do we insist on temple marriage for the 20somethings but think that it would matter any less for the 40 or 50 or whateversomethings? Why would the rules change as one ages? And what precisely is the cutoff age when overnight it now becomes acceptable to create a family with someone who does not cherish what you cherish and will not partner with you in raising your children in light and truth and whose very presence suggests that eternal families are a nice idea for the young but not that importnat after all?

    Melissa asks, “Do you really think that a desire to avoid the hard conversations (about Sabbath observance, tithing, word of wisdom, etc., etc.) that will be required, or a worry about the risk that one might compromise too much as a result of those conversations should be a strong enough reason not to get married at all?”

    Yes. Not because hard conversations are to be avoided, but because hard compromises are, especially when it would be my own children getting the message from mom that, say, the WoW matters but from Dad that it doesn’t. I think you are grossly underestimating the effect that a nonmember parent (when deliberately chosen by one parent–I think it is slightly different if one converts after marriage) has on a child’s perception of the importance of the gospel.

    “Do you really think it is better for someone to live his or her life celibate and alone?”

    Yes.

    Melisssa writes, “But, to insist that living singly and alone is a worthier option than making a life and a family with another beloved person, even if that other person isn’t Mormon seems not only unimaginably unkind but unsupportable by the LDS doctrine of families. I have to fight hard to resist the urge to suggest that your position represents both a misunderstanding of the Gospel and a narrow perspective on the world.”

    Please back this up with something–anything–from the scriptures, a church leader, a 30 year old Ensign article, anything. Show me anything in our doctrine of families that suggests that it is better for a temple worthy member to marry civilly than to remain single. Show my anything that suggests that this is a misunderstanding of the gospel. Because I could paste reams of quotations from YW lessons on the important of temple marriage that would support my position that this isn’t some nicety but rather a necessity for a commited Saint. I think the grosser misunderstanding of the Gospel and narrower perspective on the world is to deliberately make babies with someone who will not support their rearing in the Gospel. (Note that even a person who promises to support all that church stuff you do with the kids is not supporting it with her/his personal example, which means s/he’s not supporting it at all.)

    If we’re going to throw out temple marriage as a necessity, why not chastity? After all ‘to insist that living singly and alone is a worthier option than making a life and a [nonmarried] family with another beloved person, even if that other person isn’t [married to you] seems not only unimaginably unkind but unsupportable by the LDS doctrine of families. I have to fight hard to resist the urge to suggest that your position represents both a misunderstanding of the Gospel and a narrow perspective on the world.’ If we are going to countenance deviation from the ideal so that none of the Saints have to be lonely, where to draw the line? There’d be a lot less lonely single female LDS out there if they’d start sleeping with their nonmember boyfriends!

    An anecdote: our institute director here told of how sad he felt when a new convert, a man from Africa with plans on returning there, presented this marriage dilemma to him. The convert noted that the odds that an American Saint would want to marry him and live permanently in Africa were slim to none, and that there were literally no Saints in his home region. I do not remember the counsel the Institute director gave. But it was shortly thereafter that a woman from his own village in Africa–in the US and converted to the Church–crossed his path. They lived happily ever after, etc.

    Do I think most people get this fairy tale? Hardly! But what this story illustrates is that if God wants you (not any specific you; I’m speaking generally) married in the Temple, it’ll happen regardless of what the odds look like. I think that our single brothers and sisters–regardless of age–might do better to explore the possibility that if a temple marriage hasn’t presented itself, it may be because God doesn’t want them married (right now) and not as a sign that they should live their lives in a way to proclaim to the world that they think that Temple marriage isn’t as important as companionship, sex, and children.

  27. J. Stapley on September 29, 2005 at 12:06 am

    Geoff: I can’t help but remember that none of us are actually sealed to our spouses yet to begin with – we just have a promise of a sealing if we keep every covenant we make in the temple.

    hmmm…I wouldn’t say it that way. I would say that as long as we maintain our covanents we remain sealed.

  28. Julie in Austin on September 29, 2005 at 12:06 am

    Re #24:

    I would have hoped it obvious that we are talking about a temple-worthy member choosing a civil or temple marriage, and not whether a civil marriage is better than no marriage for nonmembers.

    I see a lot of commenters saying, “Yes, absolutely, better to marry civilly than to remain single.” But I see little actual engagement of our teachings and doctrine to go along with it. Say it with me, you have it memorized if you’ve spent any time at all in a singles ward: “The most important single thing that any Latter-day Saint ever does in this world is to marry the right person, in the right place, by the right authority.” I cannot believe that so many are willing to dismiss this without any further argument.

  29. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 12:18 am

    “But what this story illustrates is that if God wants you (not any specific you; I’m speaking generally) married in the Temple, it’ll happen regardless of what the odds look like”

    Julie in A.,

    I’m pretty sure there are more temple-worthy women than men, especially in the places that people go to meet people. So, whatever God wills, it is literally impossible for some women to be married in the temple in this life.

  30. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 12:18 am

    14 Julie,
    “I’m cracking up at the idea of a prenup covering everything from sabbath observance to scripture study. If a nonmember is willing to sign on for all that, s/he might as well get baptized!”

    I understand you in this. However, I offered this because I know a few couples in which this is exactly how their marriage is. The non-LDS husbands don’t get baptized because they either don’t have testimonies or aren’t willing to take on the covenants. One husband joined the Church after about 20 years, but he (as far as I know) always strongly supported wife and children in their Church activity. The ward managed to make him the choir director a few years before he joined the Church.

    17 J. Stapley
    “What if someone spent decades looking then fell in love with a non-member?”

    I agree with the decades part. I was serious when I said “the 20 or 30 years that you first sought a temple mate before receiving inspiration to marry civilly.” I see non-temple marriage as an option only after that seeking that long. I suppose it’s a form of grace after all you can do. To put a number on it, I wouldn’t agree with someone giving up on temple marriage before they’re 40 or 50.

    23. yossarian,
    I suppose you’re kidding about marriage just because you’re in love. Love is important in marraige, but the Lord wants us to love him first/most. This can be one of the tough choices we have to make.

  31. yossarian on September 29, 2005 at 12:27 am

    The problem is, most of us live in the real world. Expecting someone to live by themselves alone and to die alone without the joy of having a spouse and/or children is a bit much to ask. My biggest hope for my children is that they find someone who treats them well and that they are happy. Temple marriage doesn’t necessarily guarantee this. I trust people to make the best decisions for themselves. Basic human instinct drives us to find someone to love and to not be alone (doctrine aside) and to ask someone to forego this right (love, family, children) because someone doesn’t meet or fall in love with another mormon is unrealistic. If you are unwilling to accept this reality, then there is no convincing you.

  32. Mike B on September 29, 2005 at 12:39 am

    Definitely a tough choice for the person who must make it. I dated a few non-member women, and even considered marrying one of them. I never discussed it with her, and never got serious about it. I’m glad I didn’t (she was a nice girl) because I met my wife and we married in the temple. I have 2 brothers who married non-members. Their stories are still in the early chapters, but so far no interest in the church. Come to think of it, no interest on the brothers’ parts, either.

  33. J. Stapley on September 29, 2005 at 12:39 am

    Julie, the SOP is to get married in the temple. Stating that one should live a celibate life rather than being married outside the temple extends the SOP and I fail to see how it could be justified by the original principle. Moreover there are other principles that must be balanced that are also of great importance. I imagine that we all aggree with the first sentence of this comment. It is your subsequent comparative assertion that many find unpalatable.

  34. Soyde River on September 29, 2005 at 12:41 am

    I would rather have a happy civil marriage than a miserable or ended-in-civil-divorce TEMPLE marriage.
    So, my preference list is:
    1. Happy temple marriage
    2. Happy civil marriage
    3. Single
    4. Divorce from any marriage
    I would like to point out that for ME, there would be much difficulty in being really happy in a civil marriage. I wouldn’t say impossible, but it would require a LOT of work. If I happened to think it likely and worth it, I would do it.
    In fact, if I were to marry again, it would be a time only marriage, wouldn’t it? I have my reservations about remarriage if I am widowed (mostly re: my kids) and I might prefer to remain single.
    I think I’ll check with the Lord every time I decide to get married and let him guide me.

    The only way I can back up my feelings that a happy marriage is a good thing, even outside the temple, and is sometimes preferable to no marriage is with the Church’s Policy on out of wedlock pregnancy. If a happy marriage is possible, they always recommend marriage as the top choice. Even if one of the couple isn’t a member. If a happy marriage seems unlikely, then they recommend giving the child up for adoption (and the statistic is that temple marriage becomes more likely for the unwed mother if she gives her child up for adoption).

  35. NFlanders on September 29, 2005 at 12:45 am

    I never imagined that I’d agree fully with Adam and think Julie was completely out to lunch, but here we are.

    “4) There is a real and serious risk that your children will not be active in the Church when they grow up.”

    Newsflash: There is a real and serious risk that ANY children will not be active in the Church, no matter how righteous their parents. Just ask my mom and dad.
    Secondly, if you spend decades searching for a temple-ready mate, then I doubt you’ll be able to have any biological children anyway. Isn’t it better to provide a loving home for God’s children than to spurn all non-temple alternatives (assuming one has a choice)? I have to say that I am bewildered by Julie’s attitude.

    As much as I disliked the original post, it was all worth it to read Adam say, “Holler.”

  36. Greg Call on September 29, 2005 at 12:57 am

    Julie,

    Why not just view the act of marrying a non-member (when there is no realistic prospect of a temple marriage) as an act of faith and hope? We all know couples where one spouse joined the church after years of marriage to a member (my maternal grandparents, for example). That approach isn’t taught in the YW manuals or singles wards because it’s not the ideal and it doesn’t often work out. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t better than the alternative.

  37. Rusty on September 29, 2005 at 1:10 am

    I cannot believe that holding Temple marriage to be the ideal is so controversial.

    Come on Julie, nobody is arguing that and you know it. We all agree that a temple marriage is the ideal. What we’re talking about here is less-than-ideal circumstances. That being the case I imagine we are in personal revelation territory.

    I think you are grossly underestimating the effect that a nonmember parent… has on a child’s perception of the importance of the gospel.

    I think you grossly overestimate said effect. And it’s a bit insulting to those non-member spouses who are happy to see their children raised in our church (one of those children being my wife). I’m surprised at your lumping this whole group of non-member spouses into the “spiritual roadblock” demographic.

  38. Aaron Brown on September 29, 2005 at 1:11 am

    “…I think the grosser misunderstanding of the Gospel and narrower perspective on the world is to deliberately make babies with someone who will not support their rearing in the Gospel…”

    Julie — The question at hand, as I understand it, is not whether temple marriage is the ideal, but rather, whether (a) lifelong singlehood, or (b) marriage and child-rearing with a non-member is the better course of action (assuming these seem to be the only two realistic options). You deplore the notion of making babies and raising children with someone who “will not support their rearing in the
    Gospel” (by which you presumably meant “will not necessarily actively support their rearing in the Gospel,” rather than “are opposed to their rearing in the Gospel,” which is how this phrase came off), but consider the alternative: If we take Mormon theology seriously (never mind that I can’t point you to an Ensign article on this point), then there are a finite number of Spirits waiting to be born into mortality. We presumably would prefer that more of them be raised LDS than not, so maxmizing the chance of a given child being exposed to the Gospel by one or more of his parents is a prima facie good thing. However, to the extent that an LDS woman, capable of bearing children, removes herself from the marriage pool and declines to make babies, she arguably robs a spirit child of the opportunity of exposure to LDS values and teachings, and marginally raises the odds that Child X will be born in a non-LDS household. So I fail to see why LDS women should decline to have children if they can’t find an ideal temple-worthy mate. In short, SOME exposure to the Gospel seems preferable to NONE. One can try to avoid this issue by proclaiming that it would be better to have two committed LDS parents, but since we’re talking about the desirability of singlehood and childlessness vs. having children with a non-Mormon spouse, that option really isn’t on the table.

    Of course, perhaps the real argument here is that you never know what the future will bring, so rather than playing the odds, you should hold out as long as possible, all the while having faith that the Lord will provide you with a temple-worthy LDS mate. This sounds nice, and I’m sure that warm, fuzzy anecdotes abound that lend credence to this view, but I’m sure they could be matched with counter-anecdotes. Personally, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to consider the odds, and eventually play them. No, there’s no magic age where the temple-marriage ideal changes, but as the years pass, the probabilities of finding the “right” mate change, as do the probabilities of a given woman being able to have children and expose them to the Gospel.

    Aaron B

  39. Kaimi on September 29, 2005 at 1:15 am

    Julie,

    A temple marriage is the ideal, but to paraphrase and slightly adapt Paul, it is better to (non-temple) marry than to burn.

  40. Guy W. Murray on September 29, 2005 at 1:32 am

    Just curious Julie in A . . . how far your thinking goes on this issue. Assume a partial member marriage, obviously civil, one spouse a member, the other not—is it better at some point for the member spouse (assuming some type of re-conversion to the gospel or strong subsequent desire for temple marriage) to divorce the current non-member spouse, break up the family, in search of a temple worthy new spouse, and potential temple marriage and new family?

    Guy

  41. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 1:33 am

    Wow, you really have kicked over an ant hill here!

    I agree that temple marriage is the Lord’s way. I don’t believe that observations about some temple marriages having bad husbands, ending in divorce, or having children go inactive — as happened in my marriage — are relevant because God, who tells us how to have the greatest joy, told us that temple marriage is the standard. Talking about difficulty also is irrelevant in a Church that teaches many “unrealistic” things: WoW, tithing, chastity, voluntary missions, and sometimes to march into the desert and die on the trail.

    I see this as a matter of personal inspiration as to whether or when to make an exceptional exception to the standard. I rank this between Nephi’s exception to kill Laban and a couple’s decision to abort a pregnancy for one of the allowable reasons. I don’t see the issue as personal difficulty in obeying, but what to do if it is not possible to obey — if inspiration confirms that there will not be a temple spouse in this life.

    I was going to use the example of the LDS in my mission in South America who could not come to the then-nearest temple in LA. They weren’t counseled to marry in the temple or to not marry. However, they were counseled to marry someone who would go to the temple when/if possible. As I think about it, these folks are like those in King Benjamin’s address who were to say they couldn’t help beggars but they would if they were able.

    My stake president counseled me on this. I had decided temple marriage or no marriage with a non-LDS woman I love dearly who miraculously arrived in my life at a crucial time. After several years, it occured to me that I had decided without asking God his will. I asked my SP about it and he did not give me the temple-or-bust speech. Instead he confirmed the importance of the temple, then asked me her character, whether she would support my Church activities, how she would treat my children, our compatability, and such. As I answered with amazement in realizing how good she could be for me, the SP said that it wasn’t good to be alone and that I should ask for inspiration. I then was surprised at the affirmative answer to my prayers. However, my personal situation is different from most LDS. I do not offer myself as an example that non-temple marriage is OK, but that it may be OK to ask about it in rare instances.

  42. J. Stapley on September 29, 2005 at 1:43 am

    I will say that your reasoning, Julie, fits quite well with the forgotten era: It’s okay to divorce a less active huband to live with an active church leader. The progeny will be of a righteous bloodline and you get a higher place in the eternities. :)

  43. Wm Jas on September 29, 2005 at 2:03 am

    Re #28:

    Yes, of course I realize that we’re talking about temple-worthy members — but temple-worthy members for whom, for whatever reason, temple marriage isn’t an option. Just as with non-members, their choice is between civil marriage and no marriage at all. If they are really in that situation, then of course a civil marriage is the best choice, just as it is for nonmembers.

    Of course, temple marriage is never quite “not an option” for a worthy member. So long as you are temple-worthy, it’s always a possibility (although sometimes a remote one). If you remain single, there’s a chance that you may yet find someone to marry in the temple. If you marry a nonmember, there’s a chance that (s)he’ll convert and you’ll be able to marry in the temple. It’s really a judgment call, based on which happy ending seems more probable in your particular situation.

  44. Cindy on September 29, 2005 at 2:25 am

    And yet members who marry and divorce multiple times seem to have the best possible scenario; not only marriage in this life, but a CHOICE of spouses in the next.

    A worthy woman who for whatever reason gets divorced in this life (i.e. who were sealed to the spouse) KEEP THE SEALING until she is ready to be resealed (whatever that means). In other words, even though she’s civilly divorced, she STILL HAS THE SEALING BLESSINGS of the broken marriage. Then she’s free to marry in or out of the Church, out of the temple, etc. Sounds like the best possible scenario to me: marry any old guy in the temple, divorce him, then marry whomever and however many times after that. The benefits: legalized sex, companionship, kids, a temple marriage, alimony up the wazoo, etc. Drawbacks? None that I can see.

    If people can be sealed after this life to all the spouses they were wed to in this life, WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? WHAT’S THE PROBLEM? It seems that it really, really doesn’t matter if you marry a member in this life at all, as long as someone does your work posthumously.

  45. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 2:39 am

    44
    Cindy, I believe that your seal-and-run scenario really falls under “trifle not with sacred things” and cannot work.

    Re: “It seems that it really, really doesn’t matter if you marry a member in this life at all, as long as someone does your work posthumously.” Church leaders have said that doesn’t work either.

    Work for the dead is effective for people that did not have the opportunity to received the ordinances during their lives. We’re discussing here at what level of difficulty finding a temple spouse would qualify as not having the opportunity for temple marriage.

    Work for the dead is not effective for people that knew the truth and by their choice did not receive the ordinances while alive.

  46. Cindy on September 29, 2005 at 3:00 am

    Whether deliberate or not, that’s the doctrine and policy. I know several older widows who, though they CHOSE to marry nonmembers decades ago, plan to have their nonmember husbands sealed to them after they’re dead and gone (i.e. plan for others to do the work). It appears that it REALLY DOESN”T MATTER if one marries a nonmember or not, especially if there are no kids in the marriage.

    If a single 50 year old were to marry a non-member (obviously outside the temple) what could come of that BUT good? It might be a missionary opportunity, she could finally have the longed-for companionship, sexual relationship, family, etc. she may have wanted all her life–maybe even step kids.

    If the shoe were on the other foot; if those who are so adamant that singles live alone like pariahs were to someday soon find themselves alone, I wonder if they’d still be so insistent.

    But then again, in our church theology, once married, home free (kinda like once saved, always saved). As long as someone’s been married in the temple (even if they’re divorced or widowed) they still have the “sealing blessings” and are free to marry anyone else they choose, in or out of the temple.

    Doesn’t seem right for these same people to insist that the never-marrieds stay alone until death rather than marry the person of THEIR choice (if that choice happens to be marriage outside the temple).

  47. GeorgeD on September 29, 2005 at 7:53 am

    44 Multiple divorces the best scenario?

    God will not be mocked.

  48. Russell Arben Fox on September 29, 2005 at 7:59 am

    Julie:

    What Melisa said, what Rusty said, what NFlanders said, what Aaron said, what Guy said, what Greg said, etc., etc. Good questions and challenges, all.

    Moreover there is what seems to me a rather massive equivocation in your reasoning–you speak of children being raised in the church, being taught the gospel, etc., and of all the threats to such–a spouse who doesn’t respect the Sabbath or the Word of Wisdom, etc. This I grant. What I do not grant is your apparent presumption that such conditions are by definition present in a case of marrying a non-member spouse. (Please, if you have allowed anywhere is this thread that, yes, some non-members may be supportive of such standards, point it out to me, because I don’t see it.) I would insist–because I know from first-hand observation–that there are a great many very good people in this world, and a great many good and loving and supportive Christians in this world. Would I encourage any of my daughters to marry them? Not if I think they haven’t truly struggled to find a temple-worthy mate. Not if I think they haven’t prayed to find the strength to be a good servant of God as a single person. Not if they aren’t even 35 yet. But, if they have done all those things, and they are still unhappy, and they are still failing to find a productive place in this world and God’s church because of that unhappiness, and they have found a good and spiritual man who loves them and will care for them and will honor their religious beliefs, and they have prayed about marrying him…no, I would not use the “ideal” or the “SOP” to rebuke their longing for a hearth and a home.

    I would never be happy with or supportive of any of my children marrying someone who is dismissive of God’s commandments, so long as the barest spark of a desire to honor such still can be fanned into flame within my children’s hearts. That means Word of Wisdom, church attendance, teaching about the temple, paying tithing, etc. and so forth. Look back at my original comment, Julie: with all your provocative talk about how those of us open to this possibility must be wanting to ditch the law of chastity as well, it’s plain that you are assuming that to accept marriage to a non-member must mean accepting “any (abusive, drunken, underage, Las Vegas, open, New Agey, shotgun, whatever) marriage.” But that’s stupid; everyone here is framing the alternative in terms of “a (particular, hypothetical, depending on the circumstances, carefully considered and prayed about) non-temple marriage.” No one here is advocating ever marrying a smoker, an anti-Mormon, an atheist, a drunk, a porn addict, a wife-beater, a shiftless bum, someone who hates puppies and children, etc., etc.. They are advocating the possibility that someone who desires children and a family, and cannot, after prayer and fasting, find that inspiration which will lead them to stand tall and happy and honorable as someone without those things, could make a judgment about finding a good person outside of the covenant. That is all. You will say, “the odds of all of those things are greater if you insist on marrying in the temple!” I agree–the odds will be greater. But no guarantee. And odds change, and costs change, depending on the circumstance, and the time, and the place, and thus so must we.

    One final note, perhaps deserving of its own thread: I happen to believe that singleness, and celibacy, can be empowering to a person, and that the church needs to respect and make use of singlehood (of women and men) far more than it presently does. The Catholic church has a point about what celibacy and the monastic life can make possible in terms of spirituality and the contribution one can make to the Lord’s work. But, even if that sea-change in attitudes happened tomorrow, it would still be the case that most people wouldn’t feel called to such a life. They would rather, and would be better people and better servants of God if they were able to, have a family. Assuming good choices go into making the decision to have a family, I would never denouce such a decision.

    Sorry to get so hot and bothered about this; I just can’t help but think, given the way you are framing it, that you’re implicitly suggesting my Grandma Edra, given her time, given her place, given her desires and longings, still nonetheless did the wrong thing when she married Bill Fox. Well, she didn’t.

  49. Tatiana on September 29, 2005 at 8:25 am

    Julie, I don’t know the answer to this question. I don’t really have an opinion. I just know that reading this thread has made me feel utterly alien, more than I did before, even, I mean. (smiles). I am a convert, the first among my family and close friends. Before I joined the church, in the culture from which I came, I was of marriageable age, if a bit late (late 30s). When I joined the church I instantly became the age of a grandmother. (laughs) I instantly became an exceedingly old spinster, in a culture in which for a long while I kept unconsciously assuming these young girls must be babysitting the babies they were holding before it finally sunk in that, no, they were the mothers.

    I wanted to explain that to you because you seem largely unaware of it. But it’s not the important part of why I feel like such an alien when reading this thread. The important part is that so many of you seem to recoil instinctively from the idea of one of you marrying one of us. “Us” in this case meaning my whole family and most of my friends and everyone I work with. “Us” meaning my entire world of contacts and associations, in which there are many very good people, people I love.

    I don’t know if I shall ever marry now. I expect perhaps I never will, or not in this life. But I don’t see the disconnect between the LDS and everyone else that it seems you do. To me we’re all “us”.

  50. UKAnn on September 29, 2005 at 8:25 am

    Comment #48 – thank you. I summarises what I feel and could never express so eloquently. The problem is even more exacerbated in the mission field. Our beautiful young women here have a hard, though not impossible task to find an eternal companion. We don’t have the luxury of single wards either. I know of many faithful, stunning-looking young women who can’t even get a date. Having said that, there are strong Institute programmes in populous areas linked to local universities and it’s not unknown for young people to make their choice of university based on that. Also we have a national YSA convention one per year that produces its fair share of matches. It’s also been my observation that if you’re at all ‘homely looking’ you don’t stand a chance. In addition, if you happen not to be academic and attend any of these Universities, or live near their locale, you have an even harder time.

    I also know several (beautiful inside and outside) young women who have married outside the temple to non-members. In the main the husbands are charming, educated, and wonderful Christians – whilst some of the returned missionaries who are temple-worthy, I wouldn’t give house room to, because of their general attitude.

    BTW I think the LDSchatrooms are a blessing which enables like-minded singles to connect wherever they live (even despite the drawbacks). Well – a girl’s gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do!

  51. Cindy on September 29, 2005 at 8:36 am

    If the church disapproved of multiple fivorces, they would denounce divorce as a grave sin; they would not give callings to divorced people, etc. Yet there are men sealed in temples who are on their fourth or fifth “eternal marriages”, having been “cleared” and women who are allowed sealings to all the husbands they were married to in life (after all parties have died). These ordinances occur in TEMPLES, so multiple marriages must not be wrong in Heavenly Father’s eyes.

    Life happens, and those who don’t marry at all in this life (i.e. those who want to, but don’t) are letting life pass them by. IF they marry non-members, they can still be sealed to these people after death, so there’s no big deal there.

    President Kimball used to scare LDS youth by saying if they chose to marry outside the temple, and if one of the parties died before they got sealed, it was too bad for them. If this were even true, why are there posthumous sealings (for people like these) in the first place? It’s all just scare tactics, folks. We’re allowed to get sealed to whomever we were married to, whether or not they ever accepted the gospel in this life.

    The conclusion: marry whomever you want, whenever you want. Earth life is short, and man was not meant to be alone. Anyone who says otherwise is selling something.

  52. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 8:49 am

    “If the church disapproved of multiple fivorces, they would denounce divorce as a grave sin.”

    It does. And I’ll thank you not to come onto our blog and glorify sin and disaster (divorce is often the former and always the latter). Perhaps you should just marry Korihor right off so you don’t have to leave a wake of shattered marriages in your search for a soulmate.

    This council is no more and no less than arguing that, say, fornication does not matter because you can always repent of it. Dio you have any clue what marriage is about? Any at all?

  53. John Mansfield on September 29, 2005 at 9:08 am

    Yet there are men sealed in temples who are on their fourth or fifth “eternal marriages.” –Cindy

    Name one.

  54. Elisabeth on September 29, 2005 at 9:58 am

    To steer back the conversation to Julie’s main point, I agree with the general sentiment here that the ideal may be a temple marriage, but the ideal may not be available for some. A personal anecdote – my faithful LDS parents (my father is currently a bishop, my mother was R.S. president while I was growing up) raised six children – two out of the six are still active in the church. My husband’s father is not LDS, but all of five of my husband’s siblings are, and have always been, very active in the church.

    Yes, the odds are against part-member families, but I think we should take Tatiana’s comment to heart. There are many, many righteous and loving men and women outside our church. If the choice were between living a solitary life versus marrying an honest and loving non-LDS man or woman, I would wholeheartedly endorse the latter option.

  55. Bryce I on September 29, 2005 at 10:21 am

    Hmm, late as usual, but my $0.02:

    Unsubstantiated rumor: the story we were told in Japan, where active single women far outnumbered active single men, was that women should seek husbands that would support them in their Church beliefs and activity if they could not find a spouse who was a member of the Church.

    A policy of temple marriage or nothing of the type Julie seems to be suggesting would seem to imply another policy, that converts not be allowed to participate in temple ordinances without their spouses. The church seems to have moved away from this position in recent years (can someone clarify? I seem to recall that previously members with non-endowed, non-member spouses were told not to wear the garment. Is this correct?)

    Julie, your argument that gospel-centered child-rearing is hard enough without a non-member member parent, and that introducing such an element is highly undesirable rings hollow to me. While it is clearly best to have children born under the covenant, I would much rather see children born into a family where they would have the opportunity to learn the gospel from at least one parent than to be without the gospel at all. Put another way, it’s better to have children to whom you can teach the truth even in less than ideal circumstances than to not have children at all.

    As for the idea of risk minimization in general, maybe I’ll write a post on that at that other, other blog (if they haven’t deleted my account yet).

  56. John Mansfield on September 29, 2005 at 10:22 am

    One not uncommon outcome for older single women in the Church is to marry a widower. Those old men should be better people than when they were younger, but time chips away at the physical attractiveness of all of us. Do we feel a 37-year-old Mormon woman is better off with a good Gentile of her own age (who for some reason is unmarried) than with a Saint twice her age who has been refined by a lifetime of discipleship? Depends on how we measure such things.

    At any rate, the temple marriage opportunities of youth are not the only ones, and it’s never too early to cut off future possibilities.

  57. Todd Lundell on September 29, 2005 at 10:24 am

    If I believed Julie’s statement that “if God wants you (not any specific you; I’m speaking generally) married in the Temple, it’ll happen regardless of what the odds look like,” then I would agree with her that a person should never, ever marry outside the temple; he or she should wait (and work) for God to make it happen. But I’m with Adam here.

    “Speaking generally,” I think God wants everyone to marry a worthy spouse in the Temple and raise children in the covenant. But I also believe God must work with what He has, and right now He has members of the church in certain places with no immediate prospects of Temple marriage. That was often the case in the more rural parts of Japan, where I served my mission. I found that there were FAR more active, worthy sisters than there were active, worthy priesthood holders. Many of the devoted sisters were destined for single life, unless they looked outside the church. Of course, there were not necessarily an abundance of good, single men outside the church who would respect the beliefs of the sister. But on that occasion when a sister met a really great man who just happened not to believe in Joseph Smith, I would certainly not want her to miss out on the joys of marriage and raising a family because she believed, probably falsely, that God would find her a non-existent worthy priesthood holder.

  58. Russell Arben Fox on September 29, 2005 at 10:30 am

    “Unsubstantiated rumor: the story we were told in Japan, where active single women far outnumbered active single men, was that women should seek husbands that would support them in their Church beliefs and activity if they could not find a spouse who was a member of the Church.”

    Bryce, it was my understanding that the same advice was occasionally given by bishops and branch presidents in South Korea as well. Not having ever been in such positions, I can’t say if such was coming (if it was, in fact, coming) from stake leaders, or higher up.

  59. Bryce I on September 29, 2005 at 10:40 am

    One more data point: If civil (non-temple) marriages are so awful that no marriage is a better alternative, then we should not allow them to be solemnized in LDS chapels. This is not the case.

  60. b bell on September 29, 2005 at 10:43 am

    Wow,

    This is hot and heavy.

    Cindy, What the…..???? Are you kidding? You have any idea how hard it is to get a temple divorce and then get resealed again?

    Temple marriage is what we need to be focused on. Nothing less. I am not so confident that those that choose intentionally to marry outside the temple will get a chance to be sealed and received exhaltation. Could somebody give me a better idea on the doctrine regarding this? If I am 28 a RM and have dated both members and non-members and I live in the US say Arizona and I intentionally marry a non member do I get a second chance after I die? Also I am not so confident that a post death sealing to a non member or inactive spouse is a guarantee that the sealing will be honored. The spouse could reject the gospel in the next life like they did in this life or the Lord could judge that the non member or inactive spouse had his or her chance here in this life. COULD SOMEBODY ENLIGHTEN ME ON THIS?????

    Would the circumstance be different if I lived say in Finland and there were few members? My opinion? Only the Lord will know this.

    2 final points.

    I would never teach youth or my own children to marry outside of the temple or even consider it as an option. Hence I fall on Julies side of the equation.

    Also I do believe that part member families tend to produce more inactive kids as adults. Of course there are exceptions but i believe that the stats are on my side.

  61. VeritasLiberat on September 29, 2005 at 10:45 am

    I’m with you, Tatiana. . By the way, this is Yozhik.
    ————-
    As a recent convert married to a non-member, I plan to “deliberately make babies with someone who will not support their rearing in the Gospel.”

    Although “will not support” is quite the overstatement. Although he himself is unable to believe in God, he wants the future kidlets to have a religious upbringing, and there are ways for him to support this that don’t require him to sit in a pew: helping them raise money for a mission, driving them to Seminary, etc.

    Even presenting them with the following alternative: “You can either go to church with your mother and keep the Sabbath, or you can stay home and clean out the basement. Then the attic. Then the garage, and after that you can mow the lawn.” (If the kids are as loath to perform chores as I was, they’ll be in church every week.)

    There will be negatives to this situation, but also positives. (My children will have to *think* about what they believe and what they choose to do, and why, from an early age.)

  62. b bell on September 29, 2005 at 11:00 am

    Veritas,

    Recent convert married to a non-member is very different then say a 28 year old BYU graduate who chooses to marry outside the temple.

    Your situation is very different then that of those of us that were raised in the church or were baptized early in life and have had a real chance to date and mingle with LDS.

    Good luck. I am glad you have a supportive spouse. Its tough for the non-member spouse to understand all the stuff the LDS people do.

  63. Melissa on September 29, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Julie writes,

    “Melissa, I am stunned by your response. Just stunned. I cannot believe that holding Temple marriage to be the ideal is so controversial. I cannot believe that (barring massive personal revelation) a single LDS with any appreciation for what temple marriage means would settle for a civil marriage. To do that is to say: it matters more to me to share my bed and to have companionship than it does to do things in the way the Lord has commanded. Not to mention the risks it brings to one?s children . . .”

    I’m saddened beyond words by the mocking tone in this comment that reveals such harsh condemnation. I also think it extremely uncharitable to reduce the desire for marriage and family life (which we as Latter-day Saints understand as among the highest of all goods) as the desire to “share [one's] bed and have companionship.” This is such a deliberately crude definition of marriage that I’m rendered almost speechless.

    I agree with Russell that there are virtues in living the celibate and single life. Think of Paul here. Mormons interpret his words on this subject as counsel to missionaries, but there is nothing in the text that would warrant that interpretation. I think there is truth more broadly speaking in a lot of what he says about the sort of single-minded devotion an unmarried person can have for God. BUT, I think that marriage and parenthood are crucibles of meaningful experience, such powerful schools of love (far better schools for building character than any monastery ever could be—-to quote Martin Luther) that I just can’t see how one could argue that it would be better for someone who wished righteously for marriage and family to stay single than to marry outside of the Church. On a daily basis marriage teaches forgiveness, service, compassion, humility, faith, courage, kindness, patience, empathy, perserverance, unselfishness . . . .I could go on and on. Do I think it the case that single people can’t learn these virtues? Not at all. Do I think that single people have a disadvantage in learning these virtues? Absolutely. If I had to put thes complex thoughts simply I’d say that most human beings become better people in and through marriage and childraising. This is not a hard and fast rule. There are obvious exceptions. Sometimes the reverse is the case. All these I grant. But, as a general statement I think this is so.

    That does not mean that I am saying that we should tell our young women that they should marry whomever they love regardless of his lifestyle, values and religious beliefs. Every young person should actively seek for, wait for, and pray for a worthy LDS spouse. This is the right sort of counsel and I would never advocate something else as rule for our youth. But as many many years pass the general rule needs to be adapted to particular circumstances. The principle (and I think is this is a *central* Gospel principle) behind the counsel to marry in the Temple is that the relationships developed in marriage and family are inestimable goods. They are such profound goods in fact that God wants to seal spouses and families together so that those relationships become everlasting. If a deep and loving relationship cannot be made everlasting right now—-or even during this lifetime—-does that mean that the relationship itself (which is the primary good) should be discarded? This is just absurd. This sort of position what I meant when I said that your comment reveals a misunderstanding of the Gospel. “Reams of quotations from YW lessons” do not doctrine make.

    Russell is right to call you on the way you describe marriage to a non-member. You don’t know everything about me, but you do know some things so I’m willing to put my own life out there as an example (you know how much I normally resist this) if it will get you to stretch and see the other perspective. I care about and have great respect for you. What you think matters to me.

    I was born in the covenant and raised in the Church. Sixth generation, pioneer stock. I am from a devout family. We read scriptures every morning before school. We held family home evening. We may have even been a little too zealous—we didn’t dress down on Sundays or drink cola or watch television (except strictly controlled shows on weekends). I took the Gospel very seriously. I graduated from seminary. I went to BYU. I served a mission. I chose a major and a career path based on the work that I thought would bring me closer to God. And so on and so forth. This is not meant as a boastful resume (indeed some might have much to criticize here). No, I want to remind you of WHO I AM so that the next part is fully contextualized for you. Until yesterday I never even considered marrying someone outside the church. I never condemned it for others, but couldn’t fathom it for myself. But, I am no longer seventeen . . or twenty . . . twenty-five, or six or seven and I want to share my life with someone, to work together with someone, to invest in someone’s longterm happiness and growth, to learn how to love more purely, to make a family and warm nurturing home with someone whom I love and am committed to. I’m deliriously happy and content in my professional life (we’ve been through this at length) but that doesn’t mean that I think it would be best to live out my life alone.

    Now, given even the abbreviated sketch of what you know about me, do you think that I would choose someone (member of the Church or not) that I thought wouldn’t be capable of working with me to fulfill this sort of vision? Do you think that I would marry someone who was indifferent to raising what you call “righteous” children? Do you think that I would marry any old bum off the street so that I could “share my bed and have companionship”? This is so offensive and so wildly off the mark that it is breathtaking. I think the world is full of honest and good men who very much want their children to be loving, committed, hardworking men of integrity and virtue. I think many of them believe in God, have an active prayer life and want to do what’s right. In fact, I think as members we must believe this since we spend so much time and money to find these souls and teach them the Gospel.

    There’s another, important side to this that no one has discussed—perhaps because it’s something that is disturbing. Do you think that serious moral problems as well as indifference to home and family are somehow not problems for LDS men? Even those who’ve been married in the Temple? What if I told you that I’ve had the opportunity to marry LDS men who struggle with these sorts of issues? Would it have been better for me to marry one of them simply because they are LDS than to marry some much better man who isn’t Mormon? I can’t imagine that this is what you mean, but if it is, then I am unable to respond with anything other than a repetition that I think such a view represents a blind unacquaintance with much of life.

    Incidentally, it’s been an interesting experience the last two days to observe my own reactions to Adam’s comments on M* and your comments here. Adam’s comments filled me with an immediate joy, with a sense of peace and light; there was an almost tangible truth to what he said; it tasted good to me. Your comment elicited all the opposite feelings—disbelief, agitation, confusion, shock, despair . . . every feeling revolts! I don’t believe that we should let our emotional responses govern our decisions about what is right and what is wrong since emotions may reflect nothing more than personal preference. However, I do think that when we are living the Gospel and worthy of the Spirit that we can expect to respond positively to things that are true. I will grant that this a comment fraught with complex categories—-emotion, right/wrong, truth—-which I haven’t defined, but that’s partly because I’m not trying to put forth an argument (in this paragraph). I’m just reporting on what has happened internally the last day or so.

  64. lyle on September 29, 2005 at 11:10 am

    I’ll follow the prophet. I can think of at least one who thought death for one of his daughters preferable to a non-exalting marriage.

  65. Cindy on September 29, 2005 at 11:13 am

    Okay, so I don’t know someone temple mearried 4 or 5 times. Very sorry about that. As you can see, it was early when I wrote that I was wasn’t thinking about it too clearly. But I do know someone temple married three times. (My friend’s father; a high councillor in Holliday, UT). Two divorces. And whether or not it’s difficult too get clearances, my point is it’s ALLOWABLE.

    The fact that the doctrine and policy both allow for people to marry multiple times (for argument’s sake, let’s say in or out of the temple) seems to say that the Church would rather people get married than not. In fact, isn’t there a scripture saying wo unto those who forbid to marry? So no Catholic-like celibacy-is-good rules here. The Enclyclopedia of Mormonism says we don’t even believe in celibacy (and I know that’s not scripture and not entirely true, but that’s a different point entirely).

    Anyhoo, if the Church disallowed people to (a) do posthumous sealings if they were not temple married in life or (b) only marry once in the temple, no matter the circumstances (divorced, widowed, whatever), I could see the doctrinal and theological merit in staying single until the afterlife. But absent such a prohibition, it seems unnecessarily pious and well, just unnecessary.

    Finally, for whoever said I should just marry Korihor, ewwww. No thanks. Where the heck did that come from? Attacking a message in order to further the argument is fine, but to say I should marry Korihor? That’s just mean.

  66. Rosalynde on September 29, 2005 at 11:16 am

    Melissa, I understand and sympathize with a lot that you’ve said, but I think you’ve misinterpreted the tone of Julie’s “share a bed and have companionship.” Julie, bless her, is a resolutely practical and plain-spoken Saint, and I think, in all honesty, that this is a wonderfully serviceable description of many good marriages. I have no doubt that your marriage, to whomever and in whatever condition, will be a marriage of minds, a meeting of spirits and a transcendant union of souls—but for lots of good, happy couples, Julie’s description works just fine.

    In other words, I hate to see you two disagreeing so personally over what I see as merely a difference in style.

  67. MDS on September 29, 2005 at 11:20 am

    As Russell points out, many of us would not exist but for marriages between a member and a non-member. I belong to that group too; my maternal grandparents had such a marriage. My non-member grandfather promised to be and was incredibly supportive of his LDS children and grandchildren, faithfully attending annual primary programs, baptisms, farewells, Daddy-daughter date nights, scout meetings, etc. All four of his kids married in the temple, and he stood faithfully outside during those ceremonies. The vast majority of the grandsons that have come of age have served missions, and those of us that have married have done so in the temple. For the most part, I think my grandmother is pretty pleased with the way her posterity are turning out.

    Many of the problems Julie raises can and should be addressed prior to making the marriage decision. This was what my grandparents did, and because my grandfather was an honorable man, he kept his promises.

    Something tells me that Russell and I are not the only ones in this group. (Howard W. Hunter comes to mind).

  68. Rosalynde on September 29, 2005 at 11:22 am

    On the larger topic: I’ve got to say that in general I’m with the majority here, Julie. But I appreciate the sense in your posts (and Russell’s, too) that the single life need not be a barren spiritual wasteland. For some singles it is—but I have observed many, many instances of rich, service-filled, consecrated singleness. (Nor, I admit, have I ever been successful in predicting, by observing the behavior and nature of older Saints in my wards, which have been married, have had few children or many children—so I’m not convinced that the refining effects of family life are either permanent or unique.)

  69. annegb on September 29, 2005 at 11:30 am

    The answer is no. Because after my first husband died, I thought I could marry anybody, replace him easily. Which I did marry (anyone) and it was a miserable failure. Chemistry is important, but I didn’t know that then.

    Then I waited a long time till the right guy came along. It’s lonlier to be lonely in a marriage than to be lonely out of one.

  70. Ginny on September 29, 2005 at 11:33 am

    Yes, I must say, as another person in Vertias’ position (who was just about to post with the same comments), I’m finding the “If you’re not in a Temple marriage you’re ruining your life and your children’s lives” vibe a bit… enraging. Not here, so much (I understand that this particular conversation is about those BIC/similar, per #62). I am tired of being treated at Church as though I’m someone to be pitied and that my husband is an evil person who’s holding me back from full salvation. If one more person tells me “Well maybe he’ll convert some day”, I’m about ready to walk out and never come back. Not exactly the best way to welcome someone into the fold.

  71. Rusty on September 29, 2005 at 11:57 am

    Ugh, Ginny, I’m sorry you’ve had so many people say that to you. Some people are just idiots with good intentions.

  72. Russell Arben Fox on September 29, 2005 at 11:58 am

    Lyle,

    “I’ll follow the prophet. I can think of at least one who thought death for one of his daughters preferable to a non-exalting marriage.”

    If the quote you’re thinking of is the one I think you’re thinking of, then you’ve got it wrong. His fear wasn’t that his daughter would enter into a “non-exalting marriage”; his fear was for her virtue–specifically, that she would lose her virginity outside of wedlock. A very different thing.

    MDS,

    “As Russell points out, many of us would not exist but for marriages between a member and a non-member.”

    Thanks for the support. Before someone from my family or someone who knows my family (like Rusty) comments, I should acknowledge that my grandfather did join the church–twenty-two years after Edra Young married him. (My father baptized his father.) She did not know he would do that when she married him; what she knew was that she had found a man who loved and honored her, who respected the Bible, and who would support her every child-raising decision. Are men like that rare? Definitely. But that’s part of the point–when my grandmother, a not-terribly-attractive or socially connected woman, far away from any supportive Mormon networks, knowing her own needs and desires, was presented with what was, comparatively speaking, an excellent and rare marriage opportunity, she did not say no.

    Melissa and Rosalynde,

    I (or someone) really ought to write up a post on celibacy and singlehood. I think it is often a good thing–in fact, for many people I believe it may be their thing, their calling or fate or whatever, the path that God has given to them. I just don’t think we should assume, as Melissa suggested, that such a path to learning the sorts of virtues necessary for happiness and building up God’s kingdom is the default for any and all who don’t marry in the temple.

  73. claire c on September 29, 2005 at 12:02 pm

    It seems to me that the women facing the possibility of not finding a longed-for temple marriage in this life and being forced to choose between life celibate and alone or marrying outside the Church are very often spiritually mature – not new to the process of decision making by personal revelation. They, or rather, we, make this decision by weighing our own needs, strengths and weaknesses and spending a lot of time in prayer. If members of the church will spend less time debating the ways others should make their most personal decisions and more time supporting those brothers and sisters in those decisions, we will all be better off.

    Yes, please teach your children the importance of a temple marriage. Then teach them to find their answers in prayer. There is no substitute.

  74. Mark on September 29, 2005 at 12:07 pm

    John Mansfield (#53)

    Hold on to your hat, bro. A man in the ward next to mine just had his 7th (seventh. One more than six) marriage solemnized in the temple.

    Julie, if your position were elevated to a universal standard, at least two members of our current quorum of apostles (Bednar and Scott) would not be here. Unless I am misinformed, both of their mothers married outside the church.

  75. Nate Oman on September 29, 2005 at 12:09 pm

    What people are intersted in:

    Marriage and Gender: 187 comments
    Seer stones and law: 16 comments

    Where are our priorities people?!?

  76. GeorgeD on September 29, 2005 at 12:11 pm

    Y’all know what Pharasaism was/is? It is sitting around and legalistically defining all the boundaries of “the law”. The focus on the boundaries becomes consuming and “the law” itself becomes secondary except as a baseline to define the boundary. It ignores personal revelation. All the exceptional circumstances described in this thread can be dealt with by personal revelation. A few may call for the discernment of a judge in Israel. Absolutely none of them can be resolved by a debate of “scholars”. It is the sacred obligation of every Latter-day Saint under covenant to love God with all his might mind and strength and to love his neighbor as himself. This love of God will inform and bless all decisions. Love of God will cause us to love the principle of eternal marriage. We will advocate it constantly. Our exceptions can be driven by only two forces: sin and disobediance or personal revelation based on righteous principles. There won’t be any rulebook for either.

  77. Over Forty on September 29, 2005 at 12:20 pm

    I think trying to understand the doctrine is different from Pharaseeism (sp).

    When people intentionally forego marrying outside the Church because they have been taught–and believe–that they are sinning or that they would be mocking God for doing so, it’s important to assess how true or false this notion is.

    No-one’s life and opportunities should be wasted because principles are poorly understand.

    I think it depends on where or when the single person grew up and/or was taught the gospel. In the seventies, marrying in the temple was considered the only acceptable thing for an LDS person to do. President Kimball did, indeed, say that wilfully marrying outside the temple was shutting the door on eternal blessings forever. That was some strong language, and if it was mere hyperbole to make a point, it did a grave disservice to a lot of people who accepted his words as prophetic and God’s will.

    Nowadays we are a kinder, gentler, more politically correct church. The church was worldwide in the ’70s and ’80s, but a lot more so now. The single women who remained single in other countries (Japan, Korea, South America, Europe, etc.) because that’s what they were taught to do decades ago have it engrained in them that marriage to anyone else is unacceptable. This kind of thinking only fosters prejudice against non-members and it increases narrow-mindedness, intolerance and bitterness.

    It’s not good for man or woman to be alone, and there are far worse things than marrying outsid the church.

  78. Ivan Wolfe on September 29, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    I’m going to jump into the hostile waters and defend Julie.

    I know many, many unhappy women, who while in their 20s, decided that some marriage was better than no marriage at all – they decided that since they were 22 and weren’t dating, they might as well marry the first guy that came along, rather than hold out for a temple marriage.

    Now, they are older, their kids are no longer going to church, and they have no support from either spouse or kids.

    I also know many, many happy women who have succesful part member marriages that usually wound up with the conversion of the spouse.

    However, too many people are getting worked up about Julie’s general ideal. She was not suggestiong RAF’s grandma did the wrong thing, nor is she pointing the finger at any specific person. She seems to be saying “let’s hold this up as the ideal. If we get too fixated on the exceptions, we run the risk of changing the ideal to “just any old serviceable marriage” rather than the exalting temple marriage.”

    Outlier exceptions ALWAYS exist. That does not mean that we should hold them up as the new standards, or insist the ideal (or SOP) change itself to make us feel more comfortable. The whole point of having and ideal is to make people uncomfortable, and make them examine why they are doing what they are doing and if it’s justified or correct.

    That’s the deal with the two extremes of women I mentioned above. The first group essentially jumped into the marriages without a lot of thought, and with the mistaken idea that any old marriage was the “real” ideal. The second group made concious decisions that involved personal revelation and much prayer.

    Too many commentators are taking Julie’s comments as providing specific condemnation, when they aren’t. IMHO, Julie is currently the most reasonable commenttor on this long thread (well, more reasonable than me, anyway).

  79. Over Forty on September 29, 2005 at 12:43 pm

    The thing is: this isn’t just a Utah- or American church anymore. More Mormons live outside of the US than in it. As more and more people join, there will be fewer eligible partners for more eligible, worthy sisters. If we are so emphatic in our assertion that temple marriage–in this life–is the only way to go, we will lose these sisters to non-members anyway, or they may become understandably despondent, leave the church, decide that the doctrine is nonsensical, etc.

    Why have posthumous sealings if they aren’t available to those who don’t–for whatever reason–marry in the temple while alive?

  80. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    “If one more person tells me “Well maybe he’ll convert some day”, I’m about ready to walk out and never come back. Not exactly the best way to welcome someone into the fold. ”

    I think I’m misunderstanding you, because my reaction is , ‘why wouldn’t they want him to convert some day? Don’t you?’

    Mr. Mark,

    How many of those remarriages involved divorce? And if they did, do you think that gives that pitiable man an advantage over the rest of us, like Cindy does?

    Nate Oman,

    Maybe you should post on sex and seerstones? Did women have them? What does it all mean? Etc. I’d be interested.

  81. b bell on September 29, 2005 at 1:01 pm

    Its an ideal for sure. Like SAHM. I really like George D’s comments

    On my mission in South Africa there were lots of faithful single women in the mixed race and tribal communities who had literally almost no chance of getting temple married. (I hear that more Men are joining now and there are SOME temple marriages all of a sudden with these sisters) Will they have a shot at exhaltation if they remain faithful even if they are forced by circumstances to marry outside the church? I know that the LORD loves us all and judges us individually so I think the answer is probably yes

    Converts esp as adults are in a whole nother situation in this discussion.

    For the American who is active their WHOLE lives and had some chances at dating and mingling with people their burden in this regard is much much higher. Especially if they are Men.

  82. Ginny on September 29, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    Of course I do, but that is his decision. I’m not going to force or pressure him into it, because it’s not my right to make his spiritual decisions for him. My comment was meant to focus more on the “Oh, you poor thing – well, maybe your husband will convert someday so that your children won’t be heathens. By the way, have you met Tom?” The second half (from “so that…” on) is always unspoken, but it is definitely there.

    The worst (if least intentional) offender has been my Gospel Principles teacher. In one of our recent SS classes we were discussing temple marriages, and he repeatedly mentioned that “this is why we usually try to baptize whole families, so that we don’t create broken homes.” Give me a break.

  83. Russell Arben Fox on September 29, 2005 at 1:18 pm

    “However, too many people are getting worked up about Julie’s general ideal. She was not suggestiong RAF’s grandma did the wrong thing, nor is she pointing the finger at any specific person. She seems to be saying ‘let’s hold this up as the ideal. If we get too fixated on the exceptions, we run the risk of changing the ideal to ‘just any old serviceable marriage’ rather than the exalting temple marriage.’”

    I think that, given who her interlocutors were (primarily Melissa Proctor, hardly a foolish young girl), Julie’s expressions of astonishment at the fact that she or any of us would countenance non-temple marriage as a legitimate possibly could plausibly be read much more strongly than you read them, Ivan. That said, looking back at my own responses, I admit they were more heated than necessary.

    I’m sorry to have allowed so much defensiveness into my response, Julie; my apologies.

  84. Kayla on September 29, 2005 at 1:25 pm

    Growing up, I used to be so proud of my religion. (I know, pride is bad). It felt wonderful learning about our faith (sans the polygamy part), our doctrine, and especially about individuality and how every person is so important to God. When I began learning about other religions and spiritual-thought, I would naturally compare what we believed with what I learned–and I found that our philosophies resonated more with me than others, and were compatible with more spiritual thought than not. I used to think our religion was centered on the individuals relationship with God–which then extended to the family’s relationsihp with God. Based on our emphasis of personal revalation, of personal circumstances. Basically, I grew up believing there is not one ideal, but an infinate number of ideals in terms of the “how.” How to give service, how to raise a family, how to read and interprete the scriptures, how to… But here and in other posts, you guys seem so focused on dictating the “how” into one ideal (SAHM, TM, basically your own lives) that it doesn’t seem that you allow for what God himself (I’d be willing to bet my soul) allows for.

    I grew up beleiving that my religion was kind, beautiful, empathetic, forgiving, accepting, and emphasized personal growth. These discussions make me wonder what religion you guys follow. If you believe there is an ideal path, an ideal check-list, then follow it and be happy doing so. My ideal path is likely different than yours. However, the end result (exahltation with God) can absolutely be the same.

  85. Mark on September 29, 2005 at 1:31 pm

    Mr. Adam,

    Hi, Adam. All 6 of his previous marriages ended in divorce after a few tumultuous years. He is in his early forties and is much-married, but not in the Brigham Young sense of the term.

    Is it possible that the ability to stay married is a gift or talent that some people lack? He is an OK guy in most respects and, obviously, he is keeping enough of the commandments to merit a recommend. But I have very little hope for the prospects of this latest walk down the aisle. Since the church is willing to allow this, I’m wondering if marriage is like other challenges in life in the sense that we are to keep trying until we succeed. I dunno.

  86. Jason Kerr on September 29, 2005 at 1:51 pm

    I don’t think that the question posed is answerable. For some they should choose the a single life, for some they should choose marriage to a non-member. This is something that is too personal and too individualized to answer in every person’s case.

    I served an honorable mission, had a temple reccomend and a calling when I married a woman who was not a member of the church. I prayed about it, fasted about it, went to the temple. I even sought a blessing from my bishop. I got a strong feeling that the Lord agreed with me that I should marry my wife.

    Although I had dated about twenty or thirty LDS women before I met my wife, I never connected with any of them. They were good women, but it just never clicked.

    Three years after we were married, my wife joined the church. A year after her baptism we were sealed with our daughter. Since then we have had two more children and enjoy a very happy life together. We are both very active, have temple reccomends, and enjoy our religious experience together.

    It was not easy. We probably had more disagreements than most couples in our first years of marriage because we did not have a religion in common. But the positives far outweighed the negatives.

    I did not follow the prophet’s counsel. But it turned out alright. I honestly believe that the Lord guided my wife and I to each other. So in my case, being married to a non-member was far better than not being married at all. I am eternally grateful that I did not reject my wife just because she was not yet a member of the church. I would have lost out on the most rewarding relationships of my life.

    I think that even if my wife had not joined the church I would feel the same way. I cannot imagine loving anyone else the way I love my wife.

  87. Mike on September 29, 2005 at 1:59 pm

    My two bits, pretty late in the discussion.

    From the sociologocal perspective, if you don’t marry, (including shack up relationships as sort of common law marriages of the lowest order by the loosest definition) the long term result is that you have no children. The Kingdom can not grow if a large portion of the women have no children. This is regardles of whatever great gifts you may otherwise contribute. You may find a wonderful role in life. I think of my Aunt who never married but was a school teacher and taught thousands of Idaho farm kids to read over a 50 year career. But I also think of the Shaker religion that was once quite influencial but believes that sex is sinful even within marriage and has basically bred itsself out of existance.

    I remember a woman on the records of the ward in Biloxi. She left the church at age maybe 14 and was married/ attached to this ex-con Cajun dude who worked as a hired killer for a drug ring. He was always nice to me, but he scared me just looking at him and he wasn’t very big . She was on the no-contact list and had kicked out and fired guns at sister missionaries and used drugs and reminded me of that woman in the country song called Queen of the Road. She had three sons who looked like they would take after their father. Initially I had no interest in getting entangled with her or getting shot at. But she did happen to know one of my friends and she went to my rival high school and by accident I got to know her. I visited her every few months and her husband always fed me the most delicious food and I treated him with basic respect. We sat around and talked about how messed up Mormon Utah had been for her and laughed at the quirks of our elderly relatives back home.

    After a few years her husband got sent back to prison and she was faced with providing for the boys by herself and she actually asked me for some personal advice about what to do. I prayed with her about it and I felt inspired to tell her to consider joining the US Marines. At first she just laughed at me but then she thought about it herself. She gave up cocaine and did it. A couple months after joining, she was sent to the Persian Gulf War I and her rowdy boys were shipped off to Utah to stay with the grandparents.I have to say that if we want women as soldiers she would be about the meanest we could find. Two of her sons ended up in the State Penitentary and the third went on a mission. The Kingdom grows and God has a way of redeeming us from the worst of the worst possible situations.

    Not that we should go looking for trouble which is what any less than ideal marriage is. But here is one example of a horrible marriage between extremely wicked people resulting a positive outcome.

  88. b bell on September 29, 2005 at 2:04 pm

    Ah yes, Thanks for sharing this.

    “served an honorable mission, had a temple reccomend and a calling when I married a woman who was not a member of the church. I prayed about it, fasted about it, went to the temple. I even sought a blessing from my bishop. I got a strong feeling that the Lord agreed with me that I should marry my wife.”

    And this is why we have the gift of the Holy Ghost. And personal revelation, and Temple experiences, and blessings.

    I am going to file your story away in my memory bank for future reference.

    The prophets councel is correct but in your case you had a witness of the spirit that you should do what you did. I am glad it worked out so well. HF knew what would happen with your wife. I am concerned though that many people who marry outside the temple do not follow the correct pattern of personal revelation that you followed.

    I know a woman personally who had her PAT blessing tell her to marry outside the church. She did and he joined a few months later and they were sealed. I wish it was so black and white for others like her case.

  89. Dudley McDude on September 29, 2005 at 2:11 pm

    Amen and amen, cousin Prudence.

    Just the other day, I was reading where church leaders as late as the 1960s used to counsel missionaries that it was better to come home in a pine box that to be sent home early. Why, oh why, can we not simply follow the brethren on this topic and perform the ordinance of blood atonement on those found to be unworthy of their name tag? There needs to be some cracking down done on those juvenile delinquents who line up at the door of the MTC every Wednesday morning. You can bet the tithing money that some of them are committing adultery in their hearts. We will continue to be in dereliction of our prophetic mandate until we see some coffins being loaded into hearses in front of the MTC.

  90. lyle on September 29, 2005 at 2:15 pm

    Russell: Thanks, I’m not sure, but I believe you are correct and I mis-remembered the quote. In which case, I have no opinion and won’t speculate on the subject.

    Prudence: You need a shrink; oh wait…you don’t exist. You def. need a shrink.

  91. Harvey L on September 29, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    Earlier leaders were fond of using hyperbole that’s now proved damaging in order to stress their points. They’ve said they’d rather their offspring come home in a pine box before (a) marrying a gentile (b) having sex outside of marriage and (c) coming home early from a mission. And current (usually lower-level) leaders have taken off on these comments as a way to “motivate” youth, which is pretty bad form.

    Decisions about marriage should be up to the individual and to the whisperings of the spirit, but the reason this is up for clarification or debate is that there are severe doctrinal implications for doing the wrong things.

    If it’s true that everyone who marries outside the Church is forfeiting blessings by doing so, that by all means we should shout this from the rooftops. But we all know it is silly and unrealistic to expect that singles remain celibate, frustrated and lonely.

  92. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 2:31 pm

    I am now able to divulge some of the details of the kingdoms of glory.

    Outer Darkness – forced to read Prudence McPrude and imitators
    Telestial Kingdom – forced only to read Prudence McPrude
    Terrestial Kingdom – forced to read Prudence McPrude, but sometimes its funny
    Celestial Kingdom – Aaron Brown

  93. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 2:37 pm

    92.
    “we all know it is silly and unrealistic to expect that singles remain celibate, frustrated and lonely.”

    I agree with you if you mean all three together. I disagree with you if you mean not to expect singles to remain celibate. As a celibate divorced single, I’m sure that celibacy is exactly how I’m to remain for as long as it takes to marry as I should, or not at all. This discussion is about what kind of marriage is acceptable to the Lord, not about whether his commandments are too difficult to keep.

  94. Dudley McDude on September 29, 2005 at 2:38 pm

    Adam, the brethren and I are not amused with your trifling exegesis of section 76.

  95. Prudence McPrude on September 29, 2005 at 2:45 pm

    Well, I guess Prudence should count her blessings: At least Prudence and Aaron Brown won’t be neighbors in the hereafter. Prudence doesn’t think she could endure the association.

  96. Aaron Brown on September 29, 2005 at 2:46 pm

    Amen to that.

    Aaron B

  97. Harvey L. on September 29, 2005 at 2:47 pm

    What kind of marriage is *not* “acceptable to the Lord”??????? I seriously think some people make life much harder than it needs to be. I would think that a marriage that wasn’t loving and based on mutual attraction, acceptance and agreement would be unacceptable, but that all other kinds would be. After all, it’s in family life that we find the most joy, no matter where or by what authority that marriage is performed.

    And I guess when I’m talking about celibacy for singles, I’m talking about virginity for never-marrieds. That’s an insupportable sentence; I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t be preferrable to seek a partner outside the church than to disregard all other marriage partners on the basis of denomination. When some people sneeringly ask, “would you give up eternity for sex with a non-member husband!?” or some variation of that, they are denying the real value of companionship, love, choosing a partner, shared sensuality, etc. To say one must forfeit that because there are no available Mormons (or that it should even be a matter of prayer when it’s really a no-brainer) is mind-boggling.

  98. Nathan on September 29, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    94
    I am not so sure this is about about what is acceptable to the lord or if it is about keeping the command to marry in the temple is too hard to keep.

    If you ask me it is all of the above. (I have read the whole post and there are some refering to one question and many to the other question)

    98
    Perhaps acceptable, but not preferred. In fact, I think that the Lord looks to civil marriages as a way to keep things, well, civil (refer to the proclamation as to what the Lord sees what this might mean). Sealings are looked at differently and much more appealing as there are covenants made and eternal blessings made by two who (hopefully) come to the alter pure and with full intent to keep covenants sacred and special. Civil marriages don’t have an eternal aspect that sealings have. See below, I might write more about this.

    Julie,

    It has been 70 comments later and nobody has answered you from #26:
    “Please back this up with something–anything–from the scriptures, a church leader, a 30 year old Ensign article, anything. Show me anything in our doctrine of families that suggests that it is better for a temple worthy member to marry civilly than to remain single. Show my anything that suggests that this is a misunderstanding of the gospel. ”

    I too would like to see some back up. And I don’t want to see the anecdotal evidence (marriages solemned in chapels.) I have heard too many stories of how it works out on here as anecdotal evidence that it can work out, but I believe that that is just a far cry from what is really out there. Adding my own anecdote, I have two aunts who have been married out of the temple, and sure, their life is not over, but it is not looking like it their husbands will change. In fact one of the aunts went the way of her husband and has no want for a temple marriage let alone the church in her life. I am a ward missionary and am very interested in the part member families. Again, not promising as I see too many satisfied with the spouse to attend but also satisfied to sit out. We have hope, as does the member spouse, as these people have a higher baptism rate than do non-member families (or so I am told) so it is not all bleak.

    And of course there is the thought that if I marry outside the temple (members or non-members alike) and create a wonderful, lasting relationship full of love, compassion, and service, with wonderful memories and well-taught, good children, and we don’t get sealed, I will not get to continue the relationship in the hereafter, no matter where I end up, Celestial glory or not. There is nothing around this, it does not have the opportunity to continue, at least in the same fashion. I would be cautious in setting up a relationship knowing what I know about postmortal life.

  99. MDS on September 29, 2005 at 3:29 pm

    Harvey L asked “What kind of marriage is *not* “acceptable to the Lord”???????””

    One in which Prudence McPrude is the wife and therefore has the potential to spread her vile DNA and mentality even further?

  100. Tim Jacob on September 29, 2005 at 3:42 pm

    I think we need to reread the original question–It doesn’t mention anything about temple marriage. I think everyone agrees this is the way to go.

    Here’s how I think of it. What if you tried your best to find an LDS and worthy spouse but never did, lived to an old age, and then died. While waiting in the Spirit World and thinking back on your life, what will you think. Will you thnk, I’m glad I never married (thus never had the wonderful, fulfilling opportunity to have children, nor ever being able to be truly intimate w/somebody), or will you regret that fact. I just don’t know.

  101. Samantha J on September 29, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    Then maybe we could also ask, what possible reason could there be for wilfully remaining single? Excluding psychological, physical or sexual dysfunction, why woul anyone in his/her right mind choose to remain single?

  102. ljw on September 29, 2005 at 4:03 pm

    temple marriage is the ideal. i pray for the opportunity daily. probably more often.

    so why does the church not do more to support older, non married members? getting kicked out of a singles ward at 30 doesn’t really help. i turned 31 last year and now i attend a ward where i am the only single member over the age of 18 and under the age of 50. you attend relief society meetings, but are left out of the social converstaions about child rearing, kindergarten teachers and why their husbands can’t seem to pick up thier socks. there are few opportunities to even meet unmarried male members, much less ones that i might marry (sorry, i’m not that into the octegenarian set).

    i have friends who attend baptist churches that have active programs for both married couples and singles of all ages. it seems to me that they feel much more included and valued by thier churches, where it feels to me that i am just a bother to the ward. “oh, someone remember to go be nice to the single girl today.” if being single is truly an acceptable, even perferred, option in some circumstances, it would be nice to have a support system for single members in their 30′s and 40′s.

  103. Gilgamesh on September 29, 2005 at 4:08 pm

    Early – and I mean Early on Julie said in response to Melissa

    “I see a lot of commenters saying, “Yes, absolutely, better to marry civilly than to remain single.” But I see little actual engagement of our teachings and doctrine to go along with it.”

    The temple teaches that it was better for Adam to eat the fruit and be with Eve than be “a lone man in the Garden of Eden.”

    The fact that kids might not be raised in the gospel seems to be a non-argument. There would be NO kids if you did not marry, and I feel that goes against the command to “multiply and replenish the earth.” The call to parenthood is given to all humanity, not just to us. If it were otherwise, procreation would not be so biologically driven.

  104. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 4:19 pm

    98 & 99

    re “What kind of marriage is *not* “acceptable to the Lord”

    I meant “acceptable” in the sense of a marriage that the Lord will accept (allow to continue) when he accepts or rejects marriages in the judgment. I don’t believe any well-lived temple or non-temple marriage is condemned. However, of non-temple marriages, only those of people that did not have the opportunity for sealing in this life will be able to be sealed after they die — to have their marriage accepted by the Lord.

    Usually “not having the opportunity” means either not knowing/having a testimony of sealing, not having the opportunity to marry at all (usually considered for sisters), or not being able to get to a temple. People who choose not to seal their marriages in this life, who have testimonies and ability to go to the temple, will not get a second chance after they die.

    What we’re considering here is whether or not, and in what circumstances, someone with a testimony and the ability to go to the temple, but no prospect of a temple spouse, could marry a non-member and still eventually be sealed (to somebody), instead of remaining unmarried in the hope of finding a temple partner in this life or the next.

  105. C Jones on September 29, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    The Father’s work and glory are to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of his children. We are here to help him in this work. Obviously we couldn’t be tested on how well we would do at that task in pre-mortality and thus we are granted a limited portion of His creative power (parenthood) in this life. D & C 47:6 reminds us to consider the end of our salvation- or to always recall why we are here.
    All of our other covenants are preparatory to temple marriage. President Heber J Grant and his counselors issued a statement in 1942 affirming that temple marriage is the only proper way for members of the church.
    (This statement can be found in the Conference Report, October 1942, p.12-13; and Messages of the First Presidency, 6:177-178. Also, Elder Boyd K. Packer quoted the statement in November 1993 General Conference (“For Time and All Eternity,” in Ensign [Nov., 1993], p. 23))
    As time goes by, it is only human nature for us to be ruled more by tradition rather than by doctrine. But when we are following tradition, it has no answers for us in times of trial.
    That said- I married a non-member. He joined the church four years later, one year after the birth of our first child. But he was the one- I knew it then and I know it now. Does that change my belief in what I wrote above? Not at all.

  106. Harvey L on September 29, 2005 at 4:32 pm

    Well, I guess it comes down to this: what is the point of the Lord’s accepting “marriages” anyway?Everybody knows temple-married couples who married for the “wrong reasons”, yet their marriages are somehow more “acceptable” than a 35 year old’s marrying a non-member because she wants to have a (family) life?

    If people loved each other, lived together, and were civilly married in life, but never made it to the temple for whatever reason, are they forever barred the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom?

    If a temple-married couple divorces and the sealing is cancelled, will they not be sealed to other people in the next life?

    If so, why are temple ordinances allowed to be performed for them after their death? Busywork?

  107. Eric S. on September 29, 2005 at 4:41 pm

    38: “If we take Mormon theology seriously (never mind that I can’t point you to an Ensign article on this point), then there are a finite number of Spirits waiting to be born into mortality. We presumably would prefer that more of them be raised LDS than not, so maxmizing the chance of a given child being exposed to the Gospel by one or more of his parents is a prima facie good thing.”

    I have heard this may times, the idea that there are spirits wating to be born and if we LDS don’t provide tabernacles for them, how awful it will be for them to have to be born out of the covenant. But it seems like this is not a primary concern of our Heavenly Father, who, after, all has arranged things in this telestial world to allow far more of his children to be born in homes with no knowledge of the Gospel than in homes with the fulness of the Gospel. God has seen fit to provide His children with full priesthood authority in only very limited times and geographical areas for the great bulk of himan history. Even now, with all the resources the church has and all the technology available to us, the population of the earth is only about 2/10% nominally Mormon. That means 99.8% of the earth is not Mormon, and this is 175 years after the restoration. The overwhelming majority of souls born into mortality have come to parents not in the covenant. It seems to me that God in His infinite wisdom could have arranged things in such a way as to provide the Gospel to greater numbers of His children, if He truly wanted all (or substantially all, or a majority, or at least a larger plurality) of His spirit sons and daughters to be born in the covenant. I therefore, find this line of argument unpersuasive. That said, I am in complete agreement that temple marriage is an ideal to be sought after most earnestly and that faithful Latter-day Saints ought to be very careful about marrying outside the faith for a host of reasons, many of which have been well articulated here. At the same time, I would say that where individual circumstances do not produce such a result, a civil marriage to an otherwise worthy companion is preferable to a lifetime of singleness, though again there may be individual circumstances in which such a life is preferable (Paul, I think, had somethign to say on this matter that might be instructive).

    84: Kayla, well spoken. I think some people in the church confuse the articulation of an ideal to a churchwide (or worldwide) audience with a condemnation of individual departures from that ideal. I was deeply troubled by some of the attitudes expressed on the topic of SAHMs on another blog. I was told I was overreacting, but I really could not help feeling that I and my wife were being judged rather harshly by some of my fellow brothers and sisters. I see the same type of attitude expressed in some of the comments on this thread and I find it disturbing. Perhaps it is my libertarian tendencies; perhaps I find such expressions antithetical to the guiding principles of my religion; whatever the case, I cannot imagine the Savior or Brother Joseph saying some of the things that have been said in defense of the ideals and principles they promulgated. I believe we should uphold church standards, preach gospel ideals, follow the prophets, and strive to keep the commandments. I also believe that we should be filled with love, compassion, understanding, tolerance, patience, meekness, etc. and leave the judging and condemnation to a higher authority in another time and place.

  108. Julie in Austin on September 29, 2005 at 5:04 pm

    Adam wrote, “I�m pretty sure there are more temple-worthy women than men, especially in the places that people go to meet people. So, whatever God wills, it is literally impossible for some women to be married in the temple in this life.”

    Think about your last sentence, Adam, it may be literally impossible, but if God willed it otherwise, it would happen. I’m a lot dumber than God, but if I needed 1000 new single male members, I’d appear in a burning bush to an army unit, get my converts, and be off. I assume that if there is a gender imbalance making marriage impossible for a certain number of women, that isn’t a ‘mistake’, but reflects God’s will and plan for all parties involved. I can think of some good reasons to have single women around. We’re good for more than making babies, you know?

    yossarrin wrote, “Expecting someone to live by themselves alone and to die alone without the joy of having a spouse and/or children is a bit much to ask.”
    I fail to see why a God who asks people to get mobbed out of several states, get tarred and feathered, be martyred, cross the plains in subzero weather and make a deseret bloom wouldn’t ask some of us to give up a few (very important) things.

    Soyde (#34)–I think your point about marriage following unwed pregnancy doesn’t apply here, because at that point a temple marriage is not an option for either party and we are discussing a situation where temple marriage *is* an option for one party.

    NFlanders (#35)–I made it clear in my original comment that I understand that temple marriage isn’t a guarentee that all good things (including active children) will come your way, but it is a matter of playing the best odds. You DO raise an interesting point about postfertile people: I am more sympathetic to their civil marriages because at least they won’t be hampering their children’s spiritual growth. At the same time, when you can show me the authoritative statement that says that it is more important to marry than to marry in the temple, then I will support the practice. Now I don’t, but I am more sympathetic to it if children are not involved.

    Greg Call asked, “Why not just view the act of marrying a non-member (when there is no realistic prospect of a temple marriage) as an act of faith and hope? We all know couples where one spouse joined the church after years of marriage to a member (my maternal grandparents, for example). That approach isn�t taught in the YW manuals or singles wards because it�s not the ideal and it doesn�t often work out. But that doesn�t mean it isn�t better than the alternative.”

    As I mentioned originally, I think some people may very well be inspired to do just that and I have no beef with them. But we aren’t talking about personal revelation for special cases, we are talking about SOP. And the SOP suggests that the temple is too important to settle for second best. Further, you are taking a terrible risk with your children by bringing them into a household where someone who does not believe in the Restoration will have as much influence on them as you do.

    Rusty (#37)–I’ve made it clear from the beginning that we are talking about the SOP, not the exceptions. And, in general, nonmembers don’t convert. ANd, in general, a child with a nonmember parent does have a spiritual roadblock, even when that nonmember is a very, very good person. (Perhaps moreso if that nonmember is a very, very good person.)

    Aaron B notes (and Bryce I, who, incidentally, I always think of as ‘Bryce the First’ when I read his name), “In short, SOME exposure to the Gospel seems preferable to NONE.”

    The problem is that SOME may be worse than NONE. I’ve been around people from part-member families (and while I know not all are like this), ones that I have known have had no trouble taking the sacrament and then going out to lunch and ordering (gasp!) an iced tea. Not that that is evil incarnate, but it suggests that this person, at least, has fully learned the lesson of her youth: the church is nice, and it works for some, but it wasn’t crucial to me (as your mother) that you be raised by someone who believes in it. She would have perhaps been better off raised without the gospel and then encountering it wholeheartedly instead of learning that ‘the half-way covenant’ is good enough.

    This isn’t directly related to Aaron, but in general, this conversation has disgusted me as I think of my very good, very faithful older, single female LDS friends: y’all seem to be saying to them that they have wasted their lives because they didn’t have any babies. They’ve done a lot of other worthwhile things, and I believe that they believe the promises of our prophets that nothing denied them on earth will be denied them in heaven, including a righteous spouse and posterity. On the other hand, had they married civilly and had babies, they may very well have found themselves sans righteous spouse and posterity. They’re right to hold out.

    Guy–To my knowledge, the prophets have never taught that an intact family should be broken up because it is a part member family. To my knowledge, they’ve also never taught that a part member family should be deliberately created by marrying a nonmember.

    manean–I’m totally with you; personal inspiration is powerful and sometimes surprising. But as you recognize, that doesn’t make it SOP.

    RAF writes, “What I do not grant is your apparent presumption that such conditions are by definition present in a case of marrying a non-member spouse”

    I don’t care if the nonmember pastes on a big smile and sits happily through every FHE, sacrament meeting, etc., etc., etc. Children aren’t stupid; they know that the gospel doesn’t matter to mom/dad, and they learn to see it as an accessory instead of a necessity. (Again, I’m talking about playing for best odds here; I realize this doesn’t always happen with partmember families and sometimes happens with totally active families.)

    “I would insist�because I know from first-hand observation�that there are a great many very good people in this world, and a great many good and loving and supportive Christians in this world.”

    RAF, the hardest thing I have to explain to my kids is why their grandfather–a very, very, very good man, much more CHirstlike than me despite his agnosticism–runs a winery. It would be easier if he were a jerk and the contrast were clear.

    “One final note, perhaps deserving of its own thread: I happen to believe that singleness, and celibacy, can be empowering to a person, and that the church needs to respect and make use of singlehood (of women and men) far more than it presently does”

    EXACTLY! I’ve been thinking about this too.

    And I am sure Grandma Edra was personally inspired to do what she did. I’m sure it was right, RAF, but that doesn’t make it SOP.

    Tatiana–

    I am a convert, so not quite as ignorant about how good gentiles can be as you think. The very fact that they can be very, very good people only makes it more confusing for the children raised by them, and harder for those children to see any value in keeping the commandments. Tatiana, the larger point, however, is that covenants are important, and worth waiting for, and that’s why marrying civilly is not the SOP, regardless of age.

    Bryce I–

    The solemnization in chapels argument doesn’t work. It is clearly recognized that that is ‘second best.’

    Melissa, first, don’t insult me by suggesting that I think you are better off marrying a vile sinner in the temple than marrying a nonmember. I think I’ve already answered above most of the points you make; and I’ll reiterate that those from good pioneer stock may not have a great appreciation for what the dynamics of a part-member family (i.e., my extended family) looks like and the effect that it can have on children–ESPECIALLY when the nonmembers in question are really good people.

    Melissa, marriage’s primary function isn’t to provide YOU with an ideal crucible of human experience, it is to raise children in light and truth. Intentionally contracting a marriage that makes that harder than it need be suggests that raising your children in light and truth is NOT a nonnegotiable for you; you are willing to take risks with it. And I don’t care how much and how meaningfully your gentile prays: if he isn’t willing to enter into sacred covenants and to teach your children the importance of those covenants, you are taking a terrible risk with your children’s salvation by giving a nonbeliever (I don’t care what else he believes in if he doesn’t believe in the restoration!) equal voice in the raising of your children.

    I’ve been accused on this thread (not by Melissa specifically) of not appreciating the trials of decades of celibacy with no end in site. I am going to accuse those accusers of having no appreciation for what it means to have children and to have no greater desire to hear that they walk in the truth. To deliberately do anything that would jeopardize that simply boggles my mind. (Again, because some of you haven’t noticed the first 40 times I’ve mentioned in: I think individuals can be inspired to do contract civil marriages, but they are the exception, not the rule).

    I’m not directing this specifically to Melissa, but I’m really surprised at the trade-off that most of you seem willing to make: of course we aren’t talking about ideal situations here, but the fact that one would (barring personal revelation) close off the possibility for a temple marriage by marrying a nonmember (I know a certain percentage will convert, but the vast majority won’t) AND make your children’s road to salvation harder by giving a nonmember equal voice in their raising suggests to me that you hold the value of temple covenants in low regard.

    Melissa, your soul revolt may or may not indicate what God has planned for your personal life, and I will be the last one to doubt you if you tell us that you have decided to marry a nonmember and God approves your plan. But don’t confuse your own situation with the SOP.

    Mark, (#74)–I have no doubt that the progenitors of any given member of the Q12 acted according to personal inspiration. We are not talking about that. I’ve granted since my first comment that there are exceptions (the happiest one I know of: one of my dear friends was told by her husband on the night of their civil wedding that he wanted to take her to the temple in a year; shocked the snot out of her!). We are not talking about exceptions based on personal revelation. We are talking about the SOP!!!

    Thank you, Ivan.

    RAF (#83)–All forgiven. I’ve been out today, haven’t had a chance to respond to this dogpile, and hence correct ways in which my position has been misinterpreted. See above on your grandma.

    Jason Kerr–I think you most certainly did follow the prophet’s counsel; all that fasting and praying taught you that the Lord approved of this specific marriage, and that trumps general prophetic counsel any day of the week.

    Nathan reminded me that no one has responded to this yet:

    “�Please back this up with something�anything�from the scriptures, a church leader, a 30 year old Ensign article, anything. Show me anything in our doctrine of families that suggests that it is better for a temple worthy member to marry civilly than to remain single. Show my anything that suggests that this is a misunderstanding of the gospel. �”

    Gilgamesh (#103)–

    Eve was worthy of a temple marriage, so that argument holds no water. If Adam had been told he was better off marrying anyone that being alone, that would make your point. Further, Gilgamesh, the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth is not given to singles, so they are not violating it.

    Thank you C Jones.

    Forgive me for not proofing this lengthy missive or responding more eloquently, there ar four *extra* children in my house right now, and I need to be sure they are all still breathing.

  109. MDS on September 29, 2005 at 5:05 pm

    I found an Ensign article on this issue:

    Renon Klossner Hulet, “Partners in Everything but the Church,” Ensign, July 1988, 49

  110. Julie in Austin on September 29, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    Holy moly, because I wrote #108 in bits and pieces with interruptions, I had no idea it was so long. Sorry.

  111. Melissa Madsen Fox on September 29, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    Julie writes: “marriage’s primary function isn’t to provide YOU with an ideal crucible of human experience, it is to raise children in light and truth. ”

    That, in a nutshell, is probably the primary point of disagreement here. If that is correct, as Julie believes, then, of course, it would be very wrong to raise children in part-member families.

    However, I think everyone who disagrees with her believes that while having children is important, the primary reason for marrying is because you are in love with someone and willing to spend the rest of life (and possibly eternity with them) and incidently have and raise children, hopefully righteous ones.

    Question: I was taught that the husband-wife sealing bond was more important than the parent-child one. Perhaps that’s wrong? If it isn’t, doesn’t that mean that marriage is more than just a vehicle to raise righteous children? If marriage is only a vehicle to raise righteous children, then it really doesn’t matter *who* you marry, as long as s/he is temple worthy. Arranged marraiges, anyone? Perhpas falling in love is overrated, and our most important goal is to marry someone righteous?

    Another thought: I think because there is an intense family-oriented emphasis in the church that some of those who are single feel left out and, perhaps, discriminated against. I can understand why some would turn to marrying outside the faith, as it were, to perhaps counter the family-orientedness they get at church.

  112. NFlanders on September 29, 2005 at 5:38 pm

    Julie, I understand that you are a sincere person, but it boggles my mind that you don’t see how offensive your statements are. Please understand that phrases like “I am more sympathetic to [post-fertile couple's] civil marriages because at least they won’t be hampering their children’s spiritual growth.” are incredibly offensive (and completely wrong-headed) to a large number of people. The idea that you equate part-member marriages with hampering children’s spiritual growth is, frankly, outrageous and, forgive me for saying, fairly arrogant. I can draw no other conclusion from your words than that you believe there is a right way to raise children (temple marriage) and everything else is wrong.

    One thing I will agree with is that we shouldn’t denigrate the life choices of older, single sisters who have decided not to marry. Life is not wasted just because you don’t marry; every person has the right to decide what is best for him/herself. The problem is that you are trying to assert that in the majority of cases, singleness is better than civil marriage. Then, you demand to be proven wrong with old Ensign articles! Please, let’s stop judging others’ life choices. Life is hard enough as it is.

  113. Gilgamesh on September 29, 2005 at 5:41 pm

    “Eve was worthy of a temple marriage, so that argument holds no water. If Adam had been told he was better off marrying anyone that being alone, that would make your point. Further, Gilgamesh, the commandment to multiply and replenish the earth is not given to singles, so they are not violating it.”

    At the time Adam made the decision to eat the fruit and not “be a lone man” Eve was not temple worthy. In fact she was in the midst of the sin, yet Adam felt that entering into the sin to remain together was worth the risk of angering God so he partook of the fruit. Therefore, at least in the temple ceremony time line, Adam was willing to risk his salvation by follwing Eve and eating the fruit, in order to remain with her and not be alone. Only after they chose their relationship (their marriage covenant) over the comandment to not eat the fruit, did God bring introduce the temple ordinance.

    Yes, the argument that Eve was ignorant can be used, yet that does not excuse Adam. He knew he was violating God’s commandment. Therefore the table could be turned – Eve, still temple worthy due to ignorance, chose to stay with Adam, no longer temple worthy because of his rebellious choice to eat the fruit, in order to not be alone.

    I might be wrong, but I feel marriage itself, whether in or out of the temple, still brings us closer to the purpose of our creation. Though we should always strive for a temple marriage, and hold that as the ideal, a life of monastic celebacy should not be the only alternative when one can still enjoy the blessings of companionship, intimacy and parenthood through a non-temple marriage. If it was truly an abomination to not be married in the temple, Bishops would not be given the legal ability to marry.

  114. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    “Think about your last sentence, Adam, it may be literally impossible, but if God willed it otherwise, it would happen. I’m a lot dumber than God, but if I needed 1000 new single male members, I’d appear in a burning bush to an army unit, get my converts, and be off. I assume that if there is a gender imbalance making marriage impossible for a certain number of women, that isn’t a ‘mistake’, but reflects God’s will and plan for all parties involved.”

    Nope, July, literally impossible. God can’t and won’t force people to convert, he can’t and won’t force changes of heart, some things are out of his power. Because God hasn’t tried to convert the world with signs and wonders doesn’t mean he wants the world to be unconverted, no sir. Those army units he hasn’t appeared to in a burning bush–he wants them converted, count on it. Its just that appearing in a burning bush would be ineffective (signs don’t convert, they condemn) and counterproductive ( salvation and exaltation are largely accomplished by us trying to do God’s work for him, which is why he refrains from doing it himself)

    And, anyway, your conclusion doesn’t follow from your premises. Suppose God could convert husbands and chooses not to. Does that mean he wants sisters to be single, or does it mean he wants them to marry non-member husbands? After all, God could just as easily appear in a burning bush to gentile husbands after marriage as he could to army units before it. There’s no way to tell what he prefers simply from the fact that there are more temple-worthy women than men. You have to look for information elsewhere. And that information is just not there. The prophets and the apostles do not say that its better to be single than to marry a gentile husband. They do say that temple marriage is far, far preferable to any other kind. I grant that. I embrace that. In fact, since you are involved with young women’s, I kinda glad you have the attitude you do. But remember that there are more faithful women than men: the choice is not between temple marriage and other marriage, the choice is between spinsterhood and other marriage. I have no objection to some women choosing the latter. Neither do I have an objection to older single women deciding to bear their burden cheerfully and make themselves useful while holding on to the slim hope of temple marriage.

  115. Gilgamesh on September 29, 2005 at 5:42 pm

    Oh – on the second point, that the commandemnt to multiply and replenish the earth was not given to singles. We will haver to disagree. I feel it is a commandment for all of God’s children. It should only be fulfilled through marriage, but it is a commandment to all non-the-less. It is also a commandment that precedes the temple covenants and can be filled by couples in and out of the covenant.

  116. Greg Call on September 29, 2005 at 5:47 pm

    Julie: I know you’re swamped, but three brief points:

    (1) I thought Aaron posted a pretty good theological argument in #38 in response to your challenge.

    (2) You keep talking about SOP. But you led with the choice of civil marriage or no marriage. So we’re already talking about someone who cannot follow SOP — they are facing a choice of never marrying (which is not SOP) or marrying civilly (which is not SOP). The question is, as I take it, what is second best where you are unable to follow SOP.

    (3) You’ve got to remember that just as you feel disgusted at the thought that those that disagree with you are saying your single women friends have wasted their lives, those that disagree with you may be hurt that you seem to be saying that their friends who decided that they would marry civilly are selfishly endangering the spiritual lives of their children, or worse yet, that their children would be better off if they hadn’t been born to their family. I know you don’t mean this, just like I don’t think your single friends have wasted their lives. I assume your single friends were trying their best to follow God’s will in their lives. Likewise, you should assume that people that marry civilly are trying their best to follow God’s will in their lives. More often than not, we’ll both be right.

  117. Gilgamesh on September 29, 2005 at 5:47 pm

    Curse you Adam for breaking up my flow.

    [Ed.: Fixed. Please lift your curse before I have to appear in court tomorrow.]

  118. B on September 29, 2005 at 5:49 pm

    “She would have perhaps been better off raised without the gospel and then encountering it wholeheartedly instead of learning that ‘the half-way covenant’ is good enough.”

    I am reminded of the teachings of Jesus about the good Samaritan. The Samaritans, one might say, were following ‘the half-way covenant,’ because they were not fully Jewish but kept some of the laws. I think Jesus’ point was that if these half-way covenanters lived lives of charity (as “the good Samaritan” clearly did), then they were “better off” than the priest and Levite who were by definition of their jobs “temple-worthy.”

    “RAF, the hardest thing I have to explain to my kids is why their grandfather–a very, very, very good man, much more CHirstlike than me despite his agnosticism–runs a winery. It would be easier if he were a jerk and the contrast were clear.”

    You are lucky that you have nothing more difficult than that to explain to your kids. You might be able to use the scripture about how the harlots and publicans will enter the kingdom before certain Pharisees who were, again by definition of their role in society, “temple-worthy.” It will be a great benefit to your children to personally know and dearly love a wonderful Christlike “Gentile” so that they won’t grow up thinking that God blesses them more than others just because they were born within / baptized into / sealed to their spouses within the Abrahamic covenant. For God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

  119. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 5:53 pm

    I know you are getting ganged up on, Julie in A., and I’m sorry for that. I for one have enjoyed this conversation and have no problem with how you’ve carried it out. Sometimes we act as if ‘respect life choices’ was commandments 1-10. It ain’t. Julie in A. is trying to apply eternal truths to her life and the lives of others and there’s nothing wrong with that. I just happen to disagree with her, is all.

    “However, I think everyone who disagrees with her believes that while having children is important, the primary reason for marrying is because you are in love with someone and willing to spend the rest of life (and possibly eternity with them) and incidently have and raise children, hopefully righteous ones.”

    I disagree with Julie in A., but also with Melissa Madsen Fox. There’s nothing incidental or secondary about raising children. Marriage is about uniting two people into one whole and its about having and raising children and one shouldn’t be preferred over the other. Where Julie in A. goes wrong is in thinking that having kids who don’t make it to the celestial kingdom is worse than having no kids at all. I disagree. Every soul who can be redeemed into some glory has increased the sum of eternal happiness. Every child who’s not a son of perdition is blessed.

  120. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 5:54 pm

    All,
    I’m guilty of starting the old-Ensign comments above when I mentioned, in #3, one for which I later would give the reference. I still owe that reference. This isn’t something Julie invented. She’s just asking for what I promised. (It’s not in 1979-1981, still looking).

    Julie,
    “Again, because some of you haven’t noticed the first 40 times I’ve mentioned in: I think individuals can be inspired to do contract civil marriages, but they are the exception, not the rule.” OK – I got it on the 41st time! I started defending that there can be exceptions and you’ve been saying that acceptable non-temple marriage is the exception. We finally found our common ground.

    I fully agree that it’s better not to be unequally yoked in marriage and especially in child rearing. I believe children are much better served when testimony comes from the united parents.

  121. NFlanders on September 29, 2005 at 5:56 pm

    I happen to believe that respecting others’ life choices falls firmly under the second great commandment, but I realize that your mileage may vary.

  122. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 6:01 pm

    I hear you, N.F. Landers. I imagine that Julie in A. would not make nasty remarks to people she knew who married outside the church, even if the children fell away, precisely because of that second great commandment.

    On the other hand, you can’t love your neighbor as yourself if you’re not willing to proclaim loud and clear the truths God has given you to live your life by.

    I guess my mileage does vary.

  123. NFlanders on September 29, 2005 at 6:06 pm

    Obviously, Mr. Greenwood, I meant “life choices” as in marrying a non-member, as opposed to “life choices” becoming a heroin addict.

  124. Bryce I on September 29, 2005 at 6:11 pm

    Julie in Austin said:

    The solemnization in chapels argument doesn’t work. It is clearly recognized that that is ’second best.’

    I’m with Greg Call’s point (2) in comment 116. I thought my choice was between civil marriage and no marriage. If there is no acceptable alternative in under the Gospel plan to temple marriage, as you seem to suggest, then civil marriages shouldn’t be solemnized in chapels.

  125. Melissa on September 29, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Sigh, I find myself compelled to break my own resolution to stay out of this thread.

    Julie,

    “don’t insult me by suggesting that I think you are better off marrying a vile sinner in the temple than marrying a nonmember.”

    If this is an insult than so your suggestion that throwing out chastity is on par with with the position that marriage outside of the church is better for some than lifelong singlehood.

    My comment wasn’t meant as an insult. I’m sorry it felt like one to you. Incidentally, your tone has seemed quite personally hostile to me and judgmental, but I’m willing to believe that I’m misreading you.

    I’m intrigued about why you though my comment was insulting though. Why wouldn’t what I suggested be one possible extension of taking your position as a rule to follow? I’m telling you about the choices I’ve been presented with; how things really are here on the ground.

    You recently wrote the following at M*

    “While we shouldn’t ignore anyone’s voice, I think the personal information does matter. People with no or one chid tend to underestimate the effect that children have on time, energy, and resources.”

    Julie, I’ve engaged you at length on this topic and though I have strongly disagreed, I have valued your voice. However, I would at this point direct you back to your own words. Personal [experience] does matter. I am quite sure that you “underestimate” the effects of the life choice you are so vocally advocating. I hate to say it this way, but when you start to talking about the implications of living one’s whole life as a single person, you don’t have enough experience to really know what you’re talking about.

    Julie writes,

    “marriage’s primary function isn?t to provide YOU with an ideal crucible of human experience, it is to raise children in light and truth.”

    I had suspected that Rosalynde’s valiant attempt to account for our disagreement on these issues as a “difference of style” was mistaken. This comment confirms my suspicion. We disagree in our basic philosophy of marriage. I do not think that the primary function of marriage is childraising. I think that childraising is a great potential good of marriage, but not its central function. I’ve already given an account of what I take to be some of the spiritual, psychological, emotional goods of marriage and you seem not to be persuaded by them so let me point to what we actually do/don’t do in practice.

    We don’t support the dissolution of marriage if one or more of the partners turns out to be infertile (even if they are uncomfortable with adoption). We don’t condemn remarriage of older widows/widowers when children cannot be the result of those unions. In fact we encourage it (think Elder Oaks). We don’t leave our spouses when the children are grown and gone. We don’t suggest that married couples live chastely except when they want to conceive. And so on and so forth.

    One can value children immensely and be committed to bearing them, raising them and teaching them good values but also believe that marriage is not only good instrumentally for achieving these purposes. Marriage is good in its own right for separate and distinct reasons than bearing and raising children. Why you would think otherwise?

  126. Melissa on September 29, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    I just saw that Melissa Madsen Fox made a similar point to mine that I hadn’t seen before I began writing.

    Nicely (and succinctly) said MMF!

  127. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    N.F. Landers,

    Righto. We’re all for condemning heroin use (thougth it might hurt the feelings of the heroin users), because we think its wrong. We’re willing to let ‘respect for life choices’ go by the wayside. Though I’m sure Julie in A. doesn’t see marrying outside the temple as equivalent to heroin use, she does see it as wrong. So telling her to ‘respect life choices’ isn’t an argument to persuade Julie in A. that her views on marriage are wrong, its just an aggressive way of stating disagreement.

  128. C Jones on September 29, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    The atonement itself is only a means to an end- the exaltation of God’s children. That exaltation consists of membership in the Church of the Firstborn where we are sealed into God’s family unit and it requires all ordinances. A civil ceremony can’t exalt a person into the Church of the Firstborn. Idealistic? Sure. That’s why I love Mormonism: )
    Part of my earthly task is to try to bring my behavior into line with my understanding. I fail in that daily. This is a fallen world and I am subject to the weakness of humanity. But do I want the ideals of the gospel to be brought into line with my ability to live them? Painful as it may be, I can only hope to be able to do what little I can to bring my behavior into line with the ideals.
    I do know that God loves us, is infinitely patient with us, and knows our hearts and will judge us perfectly when the time comes.

  129. Justin on September 29, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    The Ensign published an interview with Elder Marion D. Hanks regarding LDS singles in the March 1989 issue. Here is a passage from that interview:

    Ensign: Some who have not had the opportunity, after many years, to marry a faithful Latter-day Saint wonder whether it would be better to forgo marriage entirely or to marry a good, moral non–Latter-day Saint in order to enjoy the blessings of family life here on earth.

    Elder Hanks: That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis, and essentially it is not a question that one person can answer for another. It must be handled in counsel with our Heavenly Father, and the answer must be sought through the Spirit. There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.

    But there can be missionary potential in the situation, too. Many men and women who have been converted through a faithful spouse bear testimony of their deep gratitude for a husband or wife, in-laws, and other loved ones who cared enough to share the gospel with them.

    Some may never have an opportunity to marry in this life. However, the Lord’s prophets have taught us that all that is beautiful and lovely about eternal partnership and family life will be available sometime, and with joy we cannot imagine here, to those individuals who endure to the end in Christlike living.

  130. Nathan on September 29, 2005 at 6:31 pm

    I find this interesting.

    It seems that most people are for the exception and not the rule. I guess Elder Packer was correct.

  131. NFlanders on September 29, 2005 at 6:31 pm

    Well, I guess that’s where our roads diverge, Adam. I would be loathe to tell someone their marriage was “wrong” based on my own interpretation of church doctrine.

  132. Melissa on September 29, 2005 at 6:35 pm

    Two more quick thoughts:

    1. Julie writes

    “your soul revolt may or may not indicate what God has planned for your personal life, and I will be the last one to doubt you if you tell us that you have decided to marry a nonmember and God approves your plan. But don?t confuse your own situation with the SOP.”

    I never ever have confused my own situation with the SOP. To suggest so reveals a lack of careful reading. The original question in the post assumed we weren’t talking about the SOP.

    2. Julie writes,

    “if he isn?t willing to enter into sacred covenants and to teach your children the importance of those covenants, you are taking a terrible risk with your children?s salvation by giving a nonbeliever (I don?t care what else he believes in if he doesn?t believe in the restoration!) equal voice in the raising of your children.”

    Of course the line “I don’t care what else he believes in if he doesn’t believe in the restoration” line is unfortunate, but I’ll refrain from pointing out the dogmatic absurdity because it’s too easy. Regarding the larger point you make you seem to miss the fact that bringing children into the world at all means exposing them to risks. Being married in the Temple does not offer any sort of guarantee that your children will remain in the Church. Of course, you will say that the risk is that much higher if you actually marry someone who isn’t a member, but then that brings us back to the conversation that offended you. I maintain that a relative indifference to the gospel and seruiys difficulty living up to the values therein is as possible for an LDS man you marry in the Temple as a non-member—that might be shocking but in my experience it is true.

  133. Melissa on September 29, 2005 at 6:38 pm

    Gilgamesh,

    I’ve always loved the Garden story for the reason you cite. Adam chose estrangement from God and expulsion from His presence rather than living a life without Eve.

    Ironically, remaining with Eve was actually God’s will for Adam since their life together was his only way back.

  134. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 6:39 pm

    Melissa P.,

    I’m sympathetic to your point about the purposes of marriage, or at least i was until I saw you agreed with Madame Fox, who WAY sells childrearing short. But I have to admit that the counter-examples you provide don’t buttress the case very well..

    “We don?t condemn remarriage of older widows/widowers when children cannot be the result of those unions. In fact we encourage it (think Elder Oaks). We don?t leave our spouses when the children are grown and gone. We don?t suggest that married couples live chastely except when they want to conceive.”

    Julie in A.’s proposition is that marriage is primarily about (1) raising children (2) for the celestial kingdom. You can only rebut it by finding examples of the church encouraging married couples to do things that clearly come at the expense of rearing children for the kingdom. Sex doesn’t do it. Abundant sex between husband and wife in no way detracts from the salvation of children. (In fact, by strengthening the marriage bond it might promote it). Keeping couples together after thier children are grown doesn’t do it either; it does not make it less likely that the children will be saved (in fact, it might promote the children’s salvation by (1) making them feel like they are still part of a group whose self-definition includes Mormonism and (2) by giving them a good example of marriage, since marriage is part of the path to salvation). The temporal remarriage of the old is probably your best example, though even there it’s not clear how this would be detrimental to the raising and rearing of children in “light and truth,” to use Julie in A.’s phrase. But at best this proves only that companionship is an important secondary purpose of marriage. It does not demonstrate that companionship simpliciter is as important or more important than raising children in light and truth.

  135. Kayla on September 29, 2005 at 6:40 pm

    The fact that the SOP acronym is being used in the context of religious philosophy to describe how we should live our lives is completely and utterly maddening.

    I hope no one using that acronym ever becomes a manager. I would detest being their employee. Why is it again that we keep trying to define an ideal process that has consists of only one way???

  136. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    129.

    Julie, et al — Justin just posted the reference I was going to share. BTW, the article’s “The Church and Single Latter-day Saints” p. 19.
    That issue of the Ensign is a special one about single LDS.

    This says what Julie’s been saying:
    * non-temple marriage is not answered generally but by individual inspiration,
    * “There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.” (Not that post-mortal sealings will clean up whatever mess we make in this life).
    * people who endure to the end in Christlike living will have the blessings of sealing

    Thx, Justin!

  137. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 6:46 pm

    “Well, I guess that’s where our roads diverge, Adam. I would be loathe to tell someone their marriage was “wrong” based on my own interpretation of church doctrine. ”

    So would I. So, I bet, would Julie in A. I would not be adverse to coming on the internet and saying that certain classes of marriage were wrong, if that’s what the Church taught. I am adverse to coming on the internet and saying that marriages with gentiles are wrong, but thats because I think they aren’t. If you thought they were wrong but refrained from saying so then your principle of ‘respect for life choices’ would have some content. But I bet you don’t think they’re wrong. So telling Julie in A. to ‘respect life choices’ is just a way to disagree with her while implying that she lacks charity.

  138. Russell Arben Fox on September 29, 2005 at 6:50 pm

    Adam,

    “I disagree with Julie in A., but also with Melissa Madsen Fox. There’s nothing incidental or secondary about raising children.”

    I don’t want to drag Melissa (my wife) too much into this, Adam, especially considering that our positions on this question are basically the same, though for very different reasons (that seems to be our fate, doesn’t it?). Still, I’d like to emphasize that what you’ve written is not exactly what Melissa (my wife) said. Her words were “I was taught that the husband-wife sealing bond was more important than the parent-child one.” In other words, she’s making a claim about what happens in the temple, and how that ought to shape our perspective on marriage accordingly. Failing to follow through on one’s sealing by constructing a loving relationship with another is not, in fact, compensated for by successfully raising up a children in the covenant, as important as that is.

  139. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 6:59 pm

    “Failing to follow through on one’s sealing by constructing a loving relationship with another is not, in fact, compensated for by successfully raising up a children in the covenant, as important as that is. ”

    Nor vice versa. The husband-wife sealing bond might be more important than any one parent-child bond, just as preserving the principal in any one year might be more important than maximizing interest, because the principal can generate more interest later (eternally, even). But interest is still what principal’s for.

  140. Nathan on September 29, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    Melissa,

    The thing to note about your questioning Julie in 132 part 2, is that children may come independant if you marry a non-member or member. Risk to those children comes either way. Will you accept the reasoning that a temple marriage increases the propensity that children will walk in righteousness and truth because of the covenants made in the temple align two people to go in the same direction toward exhaltation where marriage outside the temple will not?

    What is “relative” indifference you are referring to? Relative to women of the same faith or relative to other men in other faiths? Either way, I believe you fail to gain my confidence in your position.

  141. C Jones on September 29, 2005 at 7:13 pm

    Russell Fox and Adam Greenwood-
    Your comments 138 and 139 give the impression that you are defining exaltation as lots of little family units in the Celestial Kingdom. But if instead exaltation is defined as being sealed into God’s family unit, then wouldn’t the vertical sealing of one generation to the next and the horizontal sealing of husband and wife be of equal importance in welding you and your loved ones into oneness with the Godhead?

  142. Melissa Madsen Fox on September 29, 2005 at 7:13 pm

    Adam,

    I don’t like being compared to money. (I also don’t like being called Madame Fox; makes me sound like a hooker.) I don’t have children for interest, growth or gain. I had children because I loved my husband, and having a child is a natural outgrowth of that love. Not because I was told to, or because that’s what God wants. I feel for those who love their husbands/wives and can’t have children. How are they increasing their interest? By your account, they’re sinning, or at least falling short, on some level.

    I don’t think I sold childbearing/rearing short. I think its important. But, I’m not sure that childbearing/rearing is a *reason* to enter into a marriage covenant, which is what Julie has implied it should be.

  143. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 7:32 pm

    I don’t think childrearing is the only purpose of marriage. But it is without question “a reason to enter into a marriage covenant.” The marriage covenant is the highest and best way we have to imitate the Creator, whose purpose is ‘to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”

    I too feel sorry for childless couples. Though their marriages fall short, it is through no fault of their own. Eventually they will be blessed.

  144. King Malcom IV on September 29, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    #108…the hardest thing I have to explain to my kids is…

    …why their Aunt Helen decided she was really an uncle born into an aunt’s body and then became Uncle James, and now is leaning back toward thinking of herself as an Aunt while looking mostly like an uncle, but still goes by the name James, while still perhaps dallying with Mrs. Turner the Passive Agressive need-freak whose marriage is a wreck anyway.
    (this is absolutely true, with names changed)

    That and why the Rainbow no longer reminds us of the Flood. (at least not in the West Village)

    A winery? Come on, I thought it would be something good, like a Mail-Order Bride service.
    It sounds like someone’s got trouble reconciling the ideal versus the second-best in more ways than one, which explains not being able to explain this to children, who could possibly understand that other people just don’t believe the same things we do in our family.

  145. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 7:54 pm

    All right, Julie in A. Agree to disagree on whether the terrestial kingdom is better than nothing. (which does make sense of your views, by the way.).

    But, on the burning bush thing, NOT SO FAST. “there are plenty of things God could have done 20 years ago if having parity among the genders among church members was a primary goal.” I agree that parity among the genders among church members may not be a primary goal of God’s. From which we can deduce EXACTLY NOTHING about whether God would rather the extra women remain single or get married to good, gentile men.

  146. Julie in Austin on September 29, 2005 at 8:01 pm

    Ugh, I just completely messed up my comment trying to edit something. Here’s a repost; Adam’s #145 responds to this comment (and per my commitment below, I won’t respond to Adam until tomorrow):

    NFlanders writes, “The idea that you equate part-member marriages with hampering children’s spiritual growth is, frankly, outrageous and, forgive me for saying, fairly arrogant. I can draw no other conclusion from your words than that you believe there is a right way to raise children (temple marriage) and everything else is wrong.”

    Your caricature of my ideas is offensive. There is no “wrong” here, but there are practices that lead to better odds for better outcomes, and I stand by my position that a child raised by a temple-married family is more likely to be an adult who is active in the Church than one raised by a partmember family. That said, I think that I have made a tactical error in this discussion by allowing the focus to be so much on child raising outcomes. I am perhaps like a YW leader who loads her girls with info about STD and abortion stats but doesn’t come out and say ‘chastity is a commandment.’ The important thing with chastity and temple marriage is being obedient to counsel and perhaps STDs and child raising outcomes are secondary to that. As several quotations on this thread illustrate, getting married in the temple is a commandment. As Elder Hankss notes and I have said repeatedly, individuals may be inspired to do otherwise on occassion, but it doesn’t change the general rule any more than Nephi killing Laban negated the general commandment to not kill.

    Gilgamesh–You re way overreading the creation story. Sin, not transgression. And I never said that civil marriages are an abomination. Sheesh! Further, many singles will be surprised and I dare say delighted to find out that the command to multiply currently applies to them.

    Adam–

    While my burning bush may have been overreaching, there are plenty of things God could have done 20 years ago if having parity among the genders among church members was a primary goal. One would be to prohibit the baptisms of single women. (NOT that I am recommending this. I am just trying to suggest that an omnipotent God has not left single women out to dry through an accident of demographics.)

    BTW, I am not involved with the YW. I teach SS to adults and Institute.

    Greg Call writes, “they are facing a choice of never marrying”

    This is huge. If we had a crystal ball and would know for a fact that Sister X will not marry during this life, then this would be a different conversation. But we don’t. The new Sister Oaks is now the postergirl for this. Because we cannot assume that a woman (or man) will never have an opportunity to marry in the Temple, we are faced with a very different reality than the one you postulate.

    You then write, “those that disagree with you may be hurt that you seem to be saying that their friends who decided that they would marry civilly are selfishly endangering the spiritual lives of their children, or worse yet, that their children would be better off if they hadn’t been born to their family”

    I’m sure my analogy here will win me no friends, but much as I can condemn rape without condemning the children born of it, I can suggest that barring personal revelation, one should not marry civilly. I don’t know that I’ve said any more than Elder Hanks, who notes that “There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.”
    It shocks me that one would be willing to risk those eternal blessings (which are *promised* to faithful singles) for the *chance* that a less-than-ideal situation may someday change.

    Adam writes, “Where Julie in A. goes wrong is in thinking that having kids who don’t make it to the celestial kingdom is worse than having no kids at all. I disagree. Every soul who can be redeemed into some glory has increased the sum of eternal happiness. Every child who’s not a son of perdition is blessed.”

    This fascinates me because this is the same underlying premise that leads you and I to such radically different conclusions about the issue of large family sizes. I can cheerfully disagree with you on this (and that) issue because we have identified the locus of our divergent thoughts. Godspeed.

    Melissa–

    Here’s my point about the chastity comparison: in both cases (temple marriage and chastity) our leaders have taught that there is a line: chastity is a necessity and (Heber Grant quote above) temple marriage is the only accceptable option. If you are willing to throw out the temple marriage as a requirement under extenuating circumstances, by what logic are you prohibited from throwing out the chastity requirement? (This is a genuine question; please respond.)

    Melissa, my tone has not been (at least, I haven’t intended) hostility. I have intended shock and surpise that a woman I know to be a true Saint would be willing to exchange the promise of future blessings for the chance that maybe possibly things might work out someday. Read what I say as surprise, not hostility. I see the civil marriage as selling a birthrite for a mess of pottage.

    Melissa, I’ve never suggested that *any* temple marriage was acceptable.

    “I hate to say it this way, but when you start to talking about the implications of living one’s whole life as a single person, you don’t have enough experience to really know what you’re talking about.”

    I hate to say this, but when you start to talk about the implications of living one’s whole life yoked to someone who does not share your core beliefs, who will not (unless things change) be a partner to you after this life, and who will–by their very presence–risk your children’s optimal odds for salvation, you don’t have enough experience to really know what you are talking about. I have a decade of experience being yoked to a faithful priesthood holder and I would happily have stayed single for a thousand hormone-filled years rather than try to form a union with someone who wouldn’t completely support that which is most important to me. I have seven years of experience of worrying about how my children will fare in this world and I would happily endure a million years of empty arms rather than do anything that would reduce the chance that they will be exalted.

    “Marriage is good in its own right for separate and distinct reasons than bearing and raising children. Why you would think otherwise?”

    I do not dispute this. I dispute that these ‘own rights’ weigh more heavily than providing an optimal experience for children and beginning a union with eternal potential and violating what the prophets have taught about temple marriage and its importance.

    In light of Elder Hanks statement that “That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis” I want to back away from my SOP rhetoric and reiterate my commitment to the idea (as if I haven’t already said it a dozen times) that personal revelation trumps all else here. What concerns me is the climate of a thread like this (and Adam’s original comment at M* leading Melissa to consider something that she never had before) can lead to a situation where civil marriage becomes the default setting for older people.

    I’d like to focus on his last line, too:

    “However, the Lord’s prophets have taught us that all that is beautiful and lovely about eternal partnership and family life will be available sometime, and with joy we cannot imagine here, to those individuals who endure to the end in Christlike living.”

    Why (this is a serious question) would anyone jeopardize these promised blessings in order to have the benefits of a family (which most likely won’t end up being eternal, based on the stats we have) now?

    Once again, NFlanders, I never said “wrong.”

    Melissa, I have assumed since comment #1 that we WERE talking about the SOP.

    “Of course the line ‘I don’t care what else he believes in if he doesn’t believe in the restoration’ line is unfortunate, but I’ll refrain from pointing out the dogmatic absurdity because it’s too easy.”

    Um, if the restoration matters to one, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that one would want it to matter to the most significant person in one’s life. (I hope, also, that you recognized the “I don’t care what he believes” as hyperbole.) Perhaps coming from pioneer stock instead of being a convert has left you with less appreciation than I have for what it does to a family to not share a view of ultimate reality.

    ” Being married in the Temple does not offer any sort of guarantee that your children will remain in the Church”

    I’ve been saying since my very first comment that there are no guarentees but that this doesn’t excuse one from seeking the best odds possible. I am frustrated that you are misrepresenting my position when I have made it very clear for over 100 comments now.

    King Malcom IV–

    I think you miss the point. I want my children to obey the WoW. When they see a very, very good person not obeying it with no apparent ill effects, it becomes harder for them to understand why it matters. The world doesn’t rise and fall with the WoW, but this leads to big issues about following the prophet, etc.

    I am signing off for the evening, assuming I have enough self control to follow through on that promise. I will be back tomorrow to respond.

  147. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 8:04 pm

    144
    “like a Mail-Order Bride service.”
    or maybe we could inventory temple spouses for hopeless singles
    and what if we adopted the NetFlix model: for a monthly fee, keep ‘em as long as you want and exchange whenever you care to
    or is that getting too close to some earlier comments about sealing and divorce

  148. Offended on September 29, 2005 at 8:13 pm

    Please no one take offense at this, but I’m offended that Julie in A is offended (145) that Ned Flanders thinks some of her comments are offensive (112). The comments here have reduced my entire raison d’être to nothingness. To tell me I’ll be blessed in the next life is arrogant, offensive and condescending. Ya’ll have no idea what a heavy burden it is to be offended constantly. I’m probably going to stop reading this blog because of its offensive nature.

  149. Greg Call on September 29, 2005 at 8:18 pm

    Kudos for hanging tough and responding to all this, Julie. And let me say that if your ultimate position is “I can suggest that barring personal revelation, one should not marry civilly” then I’m fully on board with that. One should not marry anyone without believing that it is the Lord’s will; and I dare say that, where one has the choice, one should also not opt for a life of singlehood without believing it is the Lord’s will.

  150. Elisabeth on September 29, 2005 at 8:22 pm

    “I too feel sorry for childless couples. Though their marriages fall short, it is through no fault of their own.”

    There are many concepts batted around on this thread that disturb me (including the statement that a child (read=girl) whose “virtue” has been lost is better off dead – does any parent truly believe that for a child? Would Elizabeth Smart be better off dead?), but the one I quoted above has to take the cake. I’m not even sure how to respond, other than to say that it is insensitive sentiments like these that exacerbate the suffering of childless couples in this church. It’s bad enough that you have to struggle with infertility without adding to your pain that, because you are unable to have children, your marriage is falling “short”!

  151. King Malcolm IV on September 29, 2005 at 8:35 pm

    I did, indeed, intend to miss your point, partly for the sake of making a snide remark. You have to admit though, in all seriousness, that there are many many things that are much harder to explain to our children, whom we want to raise up unto righteousness. If that’s really the hardest thing you have to explain (instead of our beloved hyperbole, which is more likely), then I’m happy for you. Any suggestions you have on my future kids’ Aunt/Uncle would be welcome.

    BTW Julie, I think you’re really cool for holding up under all this fire, even if I disagree with parts of your position.

    Manaen,
    Netflix is good, Moonies are better. We have all the singles go to an EFY (EFS) camp and have a GA pair them off.
    Or you could have people go the Temple and receive vouchers:

    *Good for one Eternal Companion*
    (not valid with any other offer, void where prohibited, legal where allowed, cash value 1/28cent)

    Oh, wait…I’m probably missing a point somewhere…

  152. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 8:39 pm

    150
    Elisabeth, you cited, “I too feel sorry for childless couples. Though their marriages fall short, it is through no fault of their own.” then answered, “It’s bad enough that you have to struggle with infertility without adding to your pain that, because you are unable to have children, your marriage is falling “short”!”

    I took these comments to have the same meaning: childless marriages “falling short, through no fault of their own” = “struggle with infertility [...] because you are unable to have children”

    Each comment speaks of a pain for something missing because of lack of children in a marriage that is unable to have them. The first expresses sympathy for what the second suffers. I don’t take the first comment to judge the marriage between the would-be parents so much as recognize that they may feel shorted in their hopes to add children.

    149
    Greg, amen to each of your sentences.

  153. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 8:42 pm

    I don’t get it, Elisabeth S. Why would couples struggle with infertility if a marriage with children weren’t preferable to a marriage with out? Having kids is part of the covenant of marriage, so infertile couples, through no fault of their own–by the way, through no fault of their own– (THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN), have marriages that are as yet incomplete. Time will cure that wound.

  154. manaen on September 29, 2005 at 8:47 pm

    151

    King Malcom IV, one word for you: FRANCHISE.

    Should we sell licenses by counties or by stakes?

    And yes, Julie is really cool for hanging tough.

  155. Elisabeth on September 29, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    Thanks, Adam, for the clarification. I feel so much better. Back to my incomplete marriage!

  156. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 9:01 pm

    I could praise childlessness to the skies, Elisabeth S., and talk about the blessings of infertility, but you’d still have your hurt.

    Some blessings are denied some of us–having children, having children who live. They are still blessings.

  157. Justin on September 29, 2005 at 9:08 pm

    Some interesting data from the April 1987Ensign:

    Singleness is becoming more common in the Church, especially for women. About one-third of all married Church members will be either divorced or widowed before age sixty. In some geographic areas, the percentage of singles is even higher. For example, approximately 65 percent of the members of the Los Angeles California Stake are single.

    “It used to be assumed that everyone in the Church who wanted to marry could,” says Marie Cornwall, assistant professor of sociology at Brigham Young University. “Despite the fact that Latter-day Saints are still more likely to marry than people in other religious groups, more and more Latter-day Saints are single.”

    The demographic profile of the Church is changing, too. The number of divorced members is increasing—thus increasing the number of single parents. There aren’t as many single men as single women. And it is now demographically impossible for a significant number of active Latter-day Saint women to marry LDS men, especially in areas where the member-nonmember ratio is low; they are faced with the choice of either not marrying or marrying someone who is not a member of the Church. For every 100 active single women thirty years or older in the Church, there are only 19 active single men.

    “For the most part, single people want to get married,” says Sister Cornwall. “Too often people assume that marriage is easily achieved by all people. Singles know that it is just not that simple.”

    Kathleen Lubeck, “Singles and Marrieds–Together in the Faith,” Ensign (April 1987), p. 44.

  158. Julie in Austin on September 29, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    (breaking my resolve not to post tonight ONLY because as I was very innocently doing what I was supposed to be doing–working on my Institute lesson–I came across this. I haven’t read other comments; I’ll respond to them tomorrow):

    “If you are single and haven’t identified a solid prospect for celestial marriage, live for it. Pray for it. Expect it in the timetable of the Lord. Do not compromise your standards in any way that would rule out that blessing on this or the other side of the veil. The Lord knows the intent of your heart. His prophets have stated that you will have that blessing as you consistently live to qualify for it. We do not know whether it will be on this or the other side of the veil. But live for it. Pray for it.”

    –Richard G. Scott, “Receive the Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 1999, 25

  159. Mathew on September 29, 2005 at 9:19 pm

    Adam,

    I’m guessing the objection is less the substance of your comment than the way you put it. I can say true things in a hurtful manner. No doubt that is not your intention, but you have to remember you are addressing a subject where raw feelings are raw. Much as a doctor doesn’t touch an open wound as he would whole skin, so you might consider tempering your tone.

  160. Gilgamesh on September 29, 2005 at 9:27 pm

    Okay – so they are not an abomination – but I will come right back at you with a sheesh in regards to this comment. “Further, many singles will be surprised and I dare say delighted to find out that the command to multiply currently applies to them.” I never said before marriage. But I feel that is why I married, to help satisfy this commandment, which was given to me while I was single.

    I will add that I feel that being married and hoping your spouse will join the church is a far better place to be than being single, hoping that the right person will come along. The longer one waits, the higher the criteria one has to have before they are acceptable. When you can at least enjoy the unity of love on this earth with a companion, you get a taste of the eternities. What better way to help an individual strive to reach perfection. (I also believe in a lot, I mean a lot, of grace for people in the next life to accept the Gospel.)

  161. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 9:29 pm

    Mathew Doe,

    I hear you. The ‘falling short’ wasn’t originally my phrase, it was M. Fox’s.

  162. Steve Evans on September 29, 2005 at 9:43 pm

    Adam, childlessness is not a topic to which you can knowledgeably speak. You have wisdom I lack when it comes to the loss of a child, but you do not know the heartache of not having children. My suggestion to you is that you quit while you’re ahead and not try to justify your insensitive remarks.

  163. Melissa on September 29, 2005 at 9:59 pm

    Julie,

    I had hoped that a humble invitation by way of autobiography to see another perspective might open your heart and mind on this issue. But, I think, at least on this point and for the time being, we’ve come to an impasse. This discussion has distracted me from work for two days. It would have been worth it if I thought we were making progress, but we aren’t. We’ve gotten to the point of talking in circles and possibly hurting each other in the process so I’m going to withdraw (for real this time) from this discussion. I’m not backing down from my position. I’ve just grown weary.

    Since you asked me explicitly to repond to the comparison you drew between temple marriage and chastity I will comment briefly.

    You write, “in both cases (temple marriage and chastity) our leaders have taught that there is a line: chastity is a necessity and (Heber Grant quote above) temple marriage is the only accceptable option. If you are willing to throw out the temple marriage as a requirement under extenuating circumstances, by what logic are you prohibited from throwing out the chastity requirement? (This is a genuine question; please respond.)”

    The best way for me to explain this is to go back to your early call for some sort of doctrinal evidence for my position. You asked for “anything from the scriptures, a church leader, a 30 year old Ensign article, anything.” You go on to say that you could “paste reams of quotations from YW lessons on the important of temple marriage that would support [your] position.” As I’ve been thinking today about what really divides us I’ve come to believe that your comments point to a much larger issue that’s at stake—larger even than our philosophy of marriage. I think at a more fundamental level our understanding of the Gospel is different.

    It seems important to you to ground your beliefs in authoritative statements by church leaders. What leaders have taught (even if they are speaking about general principles with millions of people in mind) seems to have a lot of sway for you in making decisions and determining the course of your life. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I’m sure that such a practice will lead you to do good things. But, my approach to life is very different. You seem interested in a sort of proof-texting that I resist. I don’t think that the details of what I should do in my own life are written down somewhere or spoken over the pulpit in conference. I think that the prophets and apostles give us general counsel, reminders really, about the principles of the Gospel, necessarily allowing wide latitude for interpretation. While every principle must be interpreted in order to be applied, it is a mistake to substitute any particular interpretation or application for the principle itself. I’ve found in my life that the less rigidly I insist on any particular application the more the Spirit is able to open avenues of application to me that I wouldn’t have considered on my own. When I think I already understand the application of a principle then I can’t be taught a new or different application by the Spirit. The last couple of paragraphs in my Trading Places post flesh out the way I understand my interactive relationship with God so I won’t repeat all of that here. Please don’t misunderstand me on this point. I’m not suggesting that you don’t listen to or care about the guidance of the Spirit. I know that you have consistently and repeatedly made room in your argument for personal revelation. But I think the way we understand authority, doctrine and personal revelation is very different. Each of these is a key category; each heavily loaded in LDS language—the teasing out of which is a project for future days, and maybe even future seasons. But, I am convinced that the difference between our philosophies of marriage reflects a deeper difference in our understanding of these more central concepts.

    One more thing to everyone—-”spinster” has deeply derogatory connotations and as such is not really the female equivalent of bachelor. Please don’t use it. Just don’t.

  164. Steve Evans on September 29, 2005 at 10:00 pm

    Melissa, what is the female equivalent of bachelor? “Bachelorette” doesn’t quite seem to fit.

  165. Bryce I on September 29, 2005 at 10:04 pm

    Just because I’m curious, can anyone answer my still-unanswered question about current and past Church policy regarding temple-worthy members married to non-members wearing the garment and receiving temple ordinances? I remember some rejoicing about some policy change when I was a youth, but I’m hazy on the details.

  166. Melissa on September 29, 2005 at 10:11 pm

    There’s not a fitting neutral word.

    When I hear about some of the dumb things my friends’ spouses do or say I sometimes think about how glad I am to be “husband-free” (like “care-free” it’s sometimes a wonderful thing to be) but that’s not really the equivalent of bachelor either.

  167. Steve Evans on September 29, 2005 at 10:17 pm

    too bad. Men get all the good descriptors, it seems. sorry…

  168. Melissa on September 29, 2005 at 10:20 pm

    Hey Steve, I wonder why you haven’t said more on this thread and on my thread from yesterday too?

  169. Adam Greenwood on September 29, 2005 at 10:23 pm

    Steve,

    It’s only “insensitive” for me to talk about childlessness if people have hurt feelings about it because they feel its a lack in their lives, an opportunity denied, etc. Which is the “insensitive” thing I’ve been saying all along.

  170. Keryn on September 29, 2005 at 10:26 pm

    I usually don’t comment when the thread gets so long, but I wanted to add: I agree with Julie. Although raising righteous children isn’t the only reason for marriage, it is certainly one of the most important. And that simply isn’t as easy when both parents aren’t committed to the same church.

  171. B on September 29, 2005 at 10:28 pm

    Bryce, it was in the early 1980s, sorry I can’t be more specific. My mother was RS president and took a number of dear women (who were married to equally dear non-LDS husbands) to the temple for their endowments. There are undated pictures of that in our family photo album, and the styles are clearly from the early 1980s, and we remember vaguely how old the kids were at the time, but none of us can remember exactly when it was.

  172. Kayla on September 29, 2005 at 10:28 pm

    Melissa,

    I agree with most everything you’ve said on this post and the other. Just thought I’d let you know that you have a blog-mate.

    Steve (and other “regulars”), you’ve been absent from these discussions (not that I’ve been around that long or commented that much myself)–you always seem level-headed to me, why are you not commenting much on these? Because it’s fruitless? (Melissa herself said she was getting “weary.”)

  173. Kayla on September 29, 2005 at 10:30 pm

    Sorry, didn’t see Melissa’s question in #168 before I posted. See, we are blog-mates!!!

  174. Steve Evans on September 29, 2005 at 10:40 pm

    Melissa, there are a few reasons why I haven’t posted.

    First and foremost, because it’s a hot topic on which there are few definitive answers. I have no desire to burn my face off.

    Second, because my opinions have no foundation in logic or economics or scripture; they’re just gut instinct and are useless to others.

    Third, because I don’t want to offend others on a sensitive topic by shooting off where I have no real expertise (see, e.g., Adam).

    Melissa, if you come over for thanksgiving (shoot me an email), I’ll give you my full and frank opinion on the topic. Sorry kayla.

  175. Kayla on September 29, 2005 at 11:18 pm

    Darn it, I’m so not part of the bloggernacle inner-circle. Feels like Relief Society :)

  176. Eve Stevans on September 29, 2005 at 11:20 pm

    POACHER!!!!

  177. Jack on September 29, 2005 at 11:55 pm

    A little good news amidst all the “wrangling.”

    http://kmsiever.blogspot.com/2005/09/aisling.html

  178. Adam Greenwood on September 30, 2005 at 12:19 am

    “Third, because I don’t want to offend others on a sensitive topic by shooting off where I have no real expertise (see, e.g., Adam).”

    So you’re withdrawing from blogging at BCC?

  179. UKAnn on September 30, 2005 at 3:30 am

    Bryce (comment #165) – Current policy is:
    “A worthy member who is married to an unendowed spouse, whether the spouse is a member or nonmember, may receive a recommend (for their own endowment) when:
    1. The Bishop receives the written consent of the spouse and
    2. The Bishop and Stake President are satisfied that the responsibility assumed with the endowment will not impair marital harmony.
    GHI.

  180. Mark Butler on September 30, 2005 at 4:52 am

    The idea that non-temple marriages have no redeeming value is stunning, to say the least. What possible reason could God have for preferring life-lasting singlehood to non-ideal, but honorable marriage?

    The D&C states that “marriage is ordained of God”. In or out of the temple, it is a sacred institution, indeed a sacrament, with a sanctifying effect on both parties, members or otherwise. Why else would Paul state that the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and vice versa?

    It seems to me far more likely that one would displease God by preferring lasting singlehood to non-ideal marriage than the reverse. The Lord and the Church, society and the individual have every reason to prefer honorable marriage to indefinite singlehood, and none to oppose.

  181. Harvey L on September 30, 2005 at 7:58 am

    I think Quinn treats the endowment issue in his “Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power,” but I also know much from my own experience and study..

    Women who were not prospective/returned missionaries or about to marry in the temple were not allowed to talke out their endowments before (I think) 1980. Whther they were married, single, older, or over 21, they could not partake of the endowment. Convert women with non-member husbands could not go to the temple for their endowments.

    This was true of women of all races.

    Prior to 1978, women of color (black) could not do baptisms for the dead; they could not enter the temple at all, for any reason. It is my belief that the policy about women and temples (which changed shortly after the revelation on the priesthood and right around the time women were finally allowed to pray in meetings and speak in General Conference) came as a political–and not a doctrinal–move.

    And about the subject at hand, my former singles’ ward bishop used to openly state that the men and women in our ward should get married to decent people, whether in or out of the Church. He would even help facilitate dates with ward members and his colleagues, most of whom were not members. The ward had a high marriage rate (i.e. high for this particular single’s ward) and most people did not marry in the temple.

  182. K on September 30, 2005 at 9:11 am

    Recently seen on the streets of Boston, a sign that reads, “YOU MUST CONVERT TO BORN AGAIN CHRISTIANITY OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL,” the words must and will underlined.

    Its complete misunderstanding of the afterlife, its narrow one-size-fits-all philosophy, its arrogance, its anti-Christian tone, its incomplete application of Christ’s teachings, its utter ridiculousness, its assignation of the majority of mankind to worthlessness and also the fact that it was a posting, albeit a physical one — these all lead me to think of Julie M. Smith.

    “The idea that non-temple marriages have no redeeming value is stunning, to say the least.” Amen.

  183. Shelly on September 30, 2005 at 9:34 am

    Either this marriage question has doctrinal implications, or it doesn’t. If it does–just as with baptism–NO ONE has the right or excuse to marry outside the Church. Just as with baptism, the ordinance must be done by one in authority and must be performed for membership in the one true church. We wouldn’t accept Catholic baptisms for members of the LDS church.

    Yet, all marriages–whether performed by Elvis jumping out of a helicopter or an AME pastor–are considered valid in the LDS church. So it doesn’t matter whether people get married in the temple or not.

  184. Mathew on September 30, 2005 at 10:02 am

    K

    I’m truly sorry to see you associating so many negative things with Julie M Smith. I tend to associate her with the highly intelligent, articulate type of person able to illuminate ideas for others. She strikes me as the most natural teacher on this blog and although I know that her own children sit in her current classroom, I always picture her in front of a lecture hall inspiring students on a college campus.

    I don’t agree with her view on this particular topic, but I’ve read her long enough to believe she has thought deeply and widely about it and based on her past writing I’m happy to listen to what she has to say no the subject. Its interesting to me that we can have such different associations with Julie M. Smith–I guess that happens often enough, but it is still surprising. //end threadjack

  185. rd on September 30, 2005 at 10:16 am

    K,

    Eternal marriage is, by my reading of the scriptures, much different from non-eternal marriage. Nowhere have I read that Julie in Austin thinks that non-temple marriage has “no” redeeming value. Just less. I don’t think that’s so unreasonable. Why should we be afraid to say or debate that one thing is better than the other? Temple marriage is, in a word, infinitely better than non-temple marriage (which is, by no means, bad).

  186. Justin on September 30, 2005 at 10:22 am

    Re #165:

    A change in policy was made early in President Benson’s administration. A Feb. 12, 1986, letter from the First Presidency stated all worthy members with unendowed spouses could, with the spouse’s permission, receive temple blessings.

    I came across another interesting passage about the choice whether to stay single or marry a nonmember, this one in President Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness:

    “In isolated instances a lovely young woman might be so far removed geographically from other Church members that she would either have to marry out of the Church or stay unmarried. Some might feel justified in such circumstances in making an exception to the rule and marrying a nonmember but, justification or not, it is important to recognize that the hazards in such a marriage would remain. To minimize the dangers the girl should by all means make sure that she marries a man who is honorable and good, so that even if he cannot at present be brought to accept the gospel there is a fair chance of his being converted later” (p. 242).

  187. Mark B. on September 30, 2005 at 11:00 am

    Whoever is writing as Mark Butler is not me.

  188. Bryce I on September 30, 2005 at 11:27 am

    B (#171), UKAnn (#179), and Justin (#186), thanks for answering my question.

  189. Ginny on September 30, 2005 at 11:44 am

    Bryce #165 and UKAnn #179, I don’t have anything official to back this up, but when I asked about my own opportunity for endowments (as mentioned upthread – I converted after marriage, my husband is a non-member, has no interest in ever joining the church) I was told that written permission from one’s spouse is no longer required.

  190. C Jones on September 30, 2005 at 11:51 am

    The complete misrepresentation of what she is saying along with the appalling personal attack on Julie in Austin in #182 is “stunning”.

    Shelly in 183 gets it partly right- this question does have doctrinal implications.

    Joseph Smith said that the relationship between the members of the Godhead is a result of a covenant between them. All of us are invited to join that relationship by entering into the covenants of the gospel. To be found worthy of the highest level of exaltation, all covenants including temple marriage are necessary. So for this level of exaltation only, there is only one way.

    The fact that the church recognizes civil marriages in this life is somewhat like the lesser law given to the children of Israel when they couldn’t live up to the higher law. I don’t think anyone would argue that as far as Mormon doctrine is concerned, a civil marriage will be on the same par as a temple one in the eternities.

    Julie in Austin wants (as does our Heavenly Father) all of her sisters in the gospel to have the highest blessings. Thus her insistance on the ideal.

    But because we live in a fallen world, allowances need to be made. So for one example, someone living in a country where distance or poverty makes it impossible to marry in the temple can still marry civilly, yet still believe in the ideal. Then we must trust in God to know the desires of our hearts and judge us accordingly. If He makes allowances for those who have lived and died without ever hearing the gospel to be baptized, it only makes sense that He will do the same where the sealing ordinance is concerned. That’s why we do all those endowments and sealings in the temple for the dead, and then it is between the individual and God.

  191. Really Wanna Know on September 30, 2005 at 11:54 am

    Related questions:

    If a temple-married couple splits up and neither party remarries,

    (a) since they’re still sealed to each other, do they live with each other for the eternities? When I’ve asked this question IRL before, people say, “well obviously HF wants us to be happy, so he wouldn’t make you live with someone you didn’t love anymore.” But isn’t it the ORDINANCE that’s important here? If you make a covenant with God, it’s bound on earth as it is in heaven, and it’s the couple’s duty to maintain that covenant. Transient feelings shouldn’t factor in, which is why temple marriage is so serious in the first place. If everyone gets to pick and choose, then why stay married to just one person? Why not remarry, or even just choose a different spouse after this life?

    (b) if they are “assigned” other spouses even though they’re civilly divorced, why don’t we hear about this in Church or in conference? We always hear that single, never-married (usually in the context of WOMEN) adults who stay single and faithful until death will have “no belssings denied” in the afterlife, but this doesn’t seem to be the case for those who are sealed in the temple and who then divorce. Has anyone EVER heard that those who divorce will be able to be exalted in the life to come?

    2. What’s the difference between a single, never-married sister and a sister who has been sealed but civilly divorced, but not remarried? In the latter case, it’s near-impossible to get a cancellation of sealings, because “the sealing blessings remain intact.” But hat are those blessings, exactly? And if these blessings are soooooooo important that a divorced sister must remain tied to her hated ex-husband by virtue of an unbreakable sealing, why don’t single sisters have some kind of conditional sealing ordinance on earth so that at least they’ll have some promised assurance?

  192. K on September 30, 2005 at 1:00 pm

    Mathew,

    I confess to knowing nothing about Julie M. Smith beyond the 4 sentnces that make up this posting —and now more from you. Thank you for the reminder.

    K

  193. K on September 30, 2005 at 1:10 pm

    rd 185:

    JMS wrote, “Is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage? I don’t think so.” You read that as indicating that JMS thinks that non-temple marriage has redeeming value. You read generously. To say instead, as you do, “Temple marriage is, in a word, infinitely better than non-temple marriage (which is, by no means, bad).” — well, that’s saying something else enitrely.

  194. Cindy on September 30, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    I’m still waiting to hear what the benefits of never marrying in this life good be (besides the problematic “promise” that “no blessing will be denied”–does that include sex, by the way? And on a scale of 1 to 100, how good does the lonely spinster have to be to merit that reward? Does EVERYONE who doesn’t marry get the “blessings” that were denied them, or just the really, really, really, really almost-perfect people? I’d rather get married, have a life on earth, and take my chances in the next.)

    So anyway, what are the benefits of never marrying. Some say “service”–which is really only babysitting or teaching other people’s children, giving time to other people who themselves have family It only intensifies loneliness in most cases, and the “service” isn’t something that only single people can do; it’s usually things that marrid people with families can do too. Why do people assume that single people have more time and resources than others? That’s often not true at all.

  195. manaen on September 30, 2005 at 2:22 pm

    194
    “So anyway, what are the benefits of never marrying.”

    Short answer: the train of thought is that not marrying for lack of opportunity to temple-marry means you gave best efforts and God’s grace will provide opportunity for sealing ,etc later. However, the case in which you settle for civil marriage now could mean that you weren’t diligent in holding to the standard of temple marriage, so no opportunity later for it. This is how the Hanks’ quote (#129) would be read, “There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.”

  196. Cindy on September 30, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    I guess I’m wonderin what the real-life/this-earth benefits are for not marrying.

    It’s all a crap shoot for anyone–married, single, divorced, etc. We all have to rely on the mercy of God and only He can decide how well we kept or covenants. But faced with loneliness for another harsh 40 years or marrying some atheist who will never get baptised? If I love the atheist, I’m marrying him. There are lots of good people in the world, and discrimination based on religion is wrong, isn’t it?

  197. will on September 30, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    With all due respect to Elder Hanks and manaen (#195), I wouldn’t recommend making any life-altering decision based on what might happen in the afterlife. I think anyone that sincerely tries to maximize their personal development and service to others will be well taken care of in the next world.

  198. Akash Jayaprakash on September 30, 2005 at 5:19 pm

    Wow, a long discussion. I’ll only add this: the suggestion that marrying in the temple is a readily-available choice is increasingly NOT true for most saints. Back in the days when every Mormon lived in Utah or the surrounding regions, there was of course a wealth of options. But we don’t all live in Utah or even the U.S. anymore. And if the membership statistics recently discussed are at all valid, even the vast majority of Mormons are not temple-worthy, let alone non-members. Since we don’t all live in Utah and/or attend BYU, it can often be difficult finding a worthwhile LDS marriage scene, and I think it’s just wrong-headed to pretend that this is otherwise.

    Julie earlier recounted the tale of an African (Black) Mormon who had converted in the US and feared not being able to meet someone in his home country, but then lucked out and ran across a converted compatriot. Julie then said, “But what this story illustrates is that if God wants you (not any specific you; I’m speaking generally) married in the Temple, it’ll happen regardless of what the odds look like.” This is both ignorance and blasphemes the notion of free will. So I guess God just doesn’t want most people married in the temple, since most people aren’t, right?

  199. Mark Butler on September 30, 2005 at 5:59 pm

    I believe what Elder Hanks is talking about is the risk of being separated from the person you marry in the afterlife. That should be enough to motivate any serious member to be married in the temple if reasonably possible.

  200. manaen on September 30, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    199.
    Mark, that’s how I take Elder Hank’s meaning.
    But what is “reasonably possible?”
    See all comments above for discussion of same!

  201. Julie in Austin on September 30, 2005 at 6:21 pm

    First, isn’t everyone extremely proud of me for not posting again last night?

    /bows humbly

    Greg Call writes, “And let me say that if your ultimate position is “I can suggest that barring personal revelation, one should not marry civilly” then I’m fully on board with that.”

    That’s all I’ve been saying all along, which is why I am so flummoxed at the response I’m getting.

    Gilgamesh writes, “I will add that I feel that being married and hoping your spouse will join the church is a far better place to be than being single, hoping that the right person will come along.”

    Why? I think a far better place to be is single *with the guarantee, according to the prophets, that you will have a temply-worthy spouse and children, if not in this life than the next*, than to be married to someone who most likely will not be with you after this life (conversion rates are low) and to jeoparadize the exaltation of your children. This isn’t just my position; it is the position of every prophet who has spoken to the matter.

    Melissa in #163: this entire comment is a copout and I think you know that. “Prooftexting” is taking a statement, ignoring its original context, and then applying to a situation either irrelevant to or contrary to its original intention. If you can show me that I have done that, I will happily retract my position. But I haven’t. The prophets have been very clear that singleness is preferable to civil marriage. Quoting them to that effect is not prooftexting. Further, your ‘you can have your quotes but I’ll follow the Spirit’ is the last refuge of a Mormon scoundrel, and I think you know that as well.

    You wrote, “It seems important to you to ground your beliefs in authoritative statements by church leaders. ”

    Shocking! Appalling! Pull her permablogger status AND her temple recommend!

    Mark Butler wrote, “The idea that non-temple marriages have no redeeming value is stunning, to say the least. ”

    WHO has said this? I haven’t! They have a *lot* of redeeming value, but not enough to outweight their costs. It isn’t that civil marriage is so terribly bad; it is rather that temple marriage is so incredibly good.

    Mark wrote, “What possible reason could God have for preferring life-lasting singlehood to non-ideal, but honorable marriage?”

    Speculating about God’s reasoning is a boondoogle, but looking at the direct statements of command from his annointed leaders is not:

    “If you are single and haven’t identified a solid prospect for celestial marriage, live for it. Pray for it. Expect it in the timetable of the Lord. Do not compromise your standards in any way that would rule out that blessing on this or the other side of the veil. The Lord knows the intent of your heart. His prophets have stated that you will have that blessing as you consistently live to qualify for it. We do not know whether it will be on this or the other side of the veil. But live for it. Pray for it.”

    –Richard G. Scott, “Receive the Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 1999, 25.

    K, when you calm down a little, think about the statement from Elder Scott above and the several others from church leaders on this thread and then get back to me about how unChristlike they are all being.

    Shelley wrote, “Either this marriage question has doctrinal implications, or it doesn’t. If it does–just as with baptism–NO ONE has the right or excuse to marry outside the Church. Just as with baptism, the ordinance must be done by one in authority and must be performed for membership in the one true church. We wouldn’t accept Catholic baptisms for members of the LDS church.

    Yet, all marriages–whether performed by Elvis jumping out of a helicopter or an AME pastor–are considered valid in the LDS church. So it doesn’t matter whether people get married in the temple or not. ”

    I’d like for all of you who disagree with me to consider the final sentence of Shelley’s statement because it very much is the logical conclusion of your position.

    Justin, thank you for that quotation from Pres. Kimball. It makes clear what the rule is, and that sometimes there are people inspired to make exceptions. Let’s also note that his exception mentioned is geography, not age or desperation or hormones.

    Akash Jayaprakash–Unless you think that God has no control over anything that happens to you, it is neither ignorant nor blasphemous. You then ask, “So I guess God just doesn’t want most people married in the temple, since most people aren’t, right?” And I respond: So you think that God *does* want people married in the temple but somehow doesn’t have the power to make it possible?

  202. greenfrog on September 30, 2005 at 6:22 pm

    Is there a break in the logic of Julie in Austin’s point before one reaches this conclusion, by extension:

    It is better for those members of the Church married to non-members not to engender children than for them to engender children.

    I struggle to find a justification in the world view Julie in Austin has sketched out that would make any allowance for such a practice.

    And then I struggle to find any authoritative LDS statement asserting such a position.

    If as a Church we’re as brave at stating the truth as some have suggested on this thread, I’m convinced that there must be a logical disconnect between my hypothesized conclusion and Julie in Austin’s point.

    But I’m not seeing it.

    Any help out there?

  203. Julie in Austin on September 30, 2005 at 6:24 pm

    greenfrog, maybe others will do better, but I don’t understand what you are saying, where you are trying to go with it (do you agree with me or disagree? I cannot tell), etc.

  204. Julie in Austin on September 30, 2005 at 6:42 pm

    One other thing: it has occured to me that maybe some of the flack I am taking is because some of you imagine me standing up in Relief Society and pointing at a sister married to a nonmember and yelling, “SINNER! THOU HAST SOLD THINE BIRTHRITE FOR A MESS OF POTTAGE!”

    Please be assured that I do not do such things. (I couldn’t if I wanted to; I have to nurse the baby during RS ;))

    The original context of the comment that provoked this was about single LDS deciding, deliberately, to date nonmembers in order to improve their chances for marriage. Not that dating nonmembers is wrong, but setting out to do it to get married–when you are otherwise worthy of a temple marriage–is choosing a lesser good.

    However, if a woman (or man) were to do that, once they are married, they’re married, and I’d never hold a thought in my heart against them or their children. At that point, supporting their family is key, no matter what.

  205. Julie in Austin on September 30, 2005 at 6:43 pm

    This is worth the read, to be clear on the details of why some of those who disagree with me do it and what beliefs go along with their rejection of my position:

    http://vivanedflanders.blogspot.com/2005/09/ive-decided-not-to-raise-my-children.html

  206. B on September 30, 2005 at 7:17 pm

    JinA, I think greenfrog is saying that you are perhaps over-emphatically pointing to the spiritual dangers to children of being raised in a part-member home. If the danger were so great as you suggest, one would expect there to be some sort of warnings from church leaders to members who are married to non-members, saying “please do not bring children into your potentially spiritually damaging home! Their little spirits would be better off with no knowledge of the gospel in this life, so as to come to it fresh rather than as ‘half-covenanters.’” And yet church leaders don’t advise part-member couples to avoid childbearing or adoption.

  207. Tatiana on September 30, 2005 at 7:18 pm

    I believe what greenfrog is saying is that Julie’s statements leads logically to “People married to non-members shouldn’t have children” and he’s asking if she really believes that. If that isn’t what our amphibian friend meant then I’m curious anyway because it seems that it would follow to me as well.

  208. Tatiana on September 30, 2005 at 7:20 pm

    Or, yeah, what B. said better and more quickly than I. (grins and blushes)

  209. manaen on September 30, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    202, 206-208
    I believe the break in logic is in the first part of the 202′s extension, about better to not to engender children into a part-member home.
    I believe, and I also believe Julie would agree, that the Church does say that it would be better not to create a sealed family than a part-member one but that if a (presumed healthy) part-member is established, it is better to be fruitful and multiply.

  210. M.J. Pritchett on September 30, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    One small point that is probably not material to the underlying question of when a non-temple marriage is justified, but should be remembered as a matter of respect for the marriages of those who, for whatever reason, married outside the temple: A non-temple marriage performed by a bishop or stake president is a priesthood ordinance peformed by the authority of the priesthood and in the name of Jesus Christ. It is not merely a “civil” marriage.

  211. LRC on September 30, 2005 at 7:48 pm

    Julie –

    May I ask a personal question? How old were you when you were married and how much time did you spend in the Church as a single adult? It seems to me that asking anyone to spend a lifetime without the companionship of a spouse is a very large request to make, especially in a church that places so much emphasis on family and children. Perhaps it is a request that should not even be made until/unless the requestor really understands at a visceral level all of the sacrifices involved in spending ~70 years as a celibate single adult in a family-oriented church and has the opportunity to live for a decade or two fighting a battle for recognition, acceptance and understanding.

  212. manaen on September 30, 2005 at 7:53 pm

    211
    LRC, interesting point. If it this really is the choice, though, would you choose:
    a) those 70 years now without a spouse for eternity with one later, or
    b) those 70 years now with a spouse for eternity without one later?

  213. Julie in Austin on September 30, 2005 at 7:55 pm

    B—

    About 100 comments ago, I admitted that I was guilty of an overemphasis on the effect on children in this issue (not that I am wrong about the effect, but rather that it is muddying the issue). Nonetheless, I cannot believe that saying “a nonmember parent reduces the likelihood that a child will become an active LDS adult” is so controversial. To argue otherwise is to suggest that all of the efforts of LDS parents to propagate their faith are either useless or unnecessary.

    Tatiana– I don’t think they *shouldn’t* have children, but I do think they need to recognize (see above) that they have reduced the likelihood that that child will be an active adult. While (see above) I don’t go around announcing this to wo/men married to nonmembers or castigating them, I think it is a reasonable consideration from the perspective of a person who is dating (which, remember, is the point of this thread) and trying to determine what their priorities are. I would have hesitated to marry, say, someone hated reading because I don’t want my children to have that trait. Similarly, I would think that someone who wants their children to be faithful members of the church would marry a partner who would maximize the likelihood of that outcome. And that would be a temple worthy member.

    M. J., fair enough; what do you want me to call those marriages?

  214. ed on September 30, 2005 at 8:27 pm

    This thread is already pretty long, but I’m confused.

    Mark Butler wrote, “The idea that non-temple marriages have no redeeming value is stunning, to say the least. �

    Julie responded: “WHO has said this? I haven’t! They have a *lot* of redeeming value, but not enough to outweight their costs. It isn’t that civil marriage is so terribly bad; it is rather that temple marriage is so incredibly good.”

    But according to the original post, no marriage is better than a civil marriage. (I assume here that Julie is talking about worthy members of the church, and that barring some unusual personal revelation they shouldn’t consider marrying outside the temple.) Julie confirms this view in comment 201:

    Why? I think a far better place to be is single *with the guarantee, according to the prophets, that you will have a temply-worthy spouse and children, if not in this life than the next*, than to be married to someone who most likely will not be with you after this life (conversion rates are low) and to jeoparadize the exaltation of your children. This isn’t just

    So Julie’s position seems clear, although it seems to me we can find statements from church leaders supporting both sides. Hers is a stronger position that just to say we should wait because a temple marriage might come along. She is saying it is better to stay single even if we knew that no temple marriage would be possible.

    There has also been a lot of discussion about how children fare with a non-member spouse. But I thought we were comparing civil marriage with no marriage at all. So the relevant comparison isn’t chilren in a united family vs. children in a mixed family, it’s children in a mixed family vs. children that don’t exist at all. So Julie’s opinion on the matter seems to be that she prefers the non-existent children (with a hope of spirit children in the next life). I’m not sure what she means by “jeopardize the exaltation of your children” when the alternative is that you have no children.

  215. LRC on September 30, 2005 at 8:37 pm

    Manean (re 212):

    As they say in Primary, “I will follow God’s plan for me”.

  216. M.J. Pritchett on September 30, 2005 at 9:00 pm

    Julie:

    “Non-temple marriage” or “Married by a bishop” might work, depending on the context.

    “Married for time” is accurate, but that is usually used to describe a second marriage of a previously sealed woman in the temple in which she is not sealed to her husband.

    Like the comment above regarding the lack of an equivelent female word for “bachelor”, there is no positive term for a non-temple priesthood marriage.

    In Mormon culture “married by a bishop” can have negative conotations since sometimes it means “shotgun” wedding. But increasingly often it means the marriage of an adult member to a sympathetic non-member.

    As a new Bishop called on to perform my first wedding, I was surprised to learn that non-temple marriage was even a priesthood ordianince, I had assumed that somehow I would be merely acting as a civil officer.

  217. Kaimi on September 30, 2005 at 10:57 pm

    Isn’t the real question: What if the “horse you rode in on” was actually a deer?

  218. Over Forty on October 1, 2005 at 1:03 am

    I have had friends leave the Church over this very issue, after having studied the doctrine and history of temple marriage, sealings and so forth. They decided that the doctrine just didn’t make sense: why would Heavenly Father refuse admittance to the highest kingdom solely on the basis of married choices at (most often) a young age? If we believe that we will live for an eternity, the first 20 or 25 years of our lives–when typically marriage choices are made–are a time when our brains aren’t even fully formed. Add to that a hormone-driven yet dateless two years of a mission, then being thrown into the wasps’ nest in college, and people are bound to make incorrect choices (if we consider marriage to a non-member or even picking the “wrong” member an incorrect choice).

    No one has answered the question about what happens with a temple divorce (cancellation of sealings). The answer to this could go a LONG way towards understand why or it it’s critical to choose to marry in the temple or choose to remain single. If it’s so all-important to be sealed–and only sealed once–in the temple, or else forfeit your eternal blessings, does that mean the college student who marries her first boyfriend, at a young and vulnerable time and age, is doomed forever once they divorce?

    Since even the righteous, temple-sealed, go-to-meetin’-every-Sunday-and-temple-every-Tuesday family may not make it to the Celestial Kingdom, just how exclusive *is* this exaltation country club, anyway?

    The doctrine simply doesn’t make sense to some people, and the way the argument has gone on this blog makes it all the more nonsensical, and some have understandably taken grave offense to the prejudice against non-members.

  219. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 1:18 am

    Over Forty: you raise very, very good questions about the impact that decisions that people barely out of (in some cases, still in!) their teens make. At the same time, *every* decision that even a young teen makes can potentially have eternal consequences. It may be that what is out of whack is not the deep consequences of marriage decisions, but our cultural patterns of treating teens as slightly largish children instead of people that God deems competent to make really serious decisions. (It is interesting to me, although I grant that it probably doesn’t have deep eternal significance, that we call our youth Young Men and Young Women–they *are* Women and Men, just young.)

    You also write of “the prejudice against non-members.” Since I am apparently the cheese standing alone on this thread, I’m wondering if you think I think this. (If you are referring to someone else, disregard what follows.) I don’t. I think I have made it abundantly clear that I don’t think nonmembers are a bunch of kitten-torturing drunkards. Many I have known are, by any standard, more righteous than many active LDS that I know. The only “prejudice” I have against them is that they cannot enter into eternal covenants which means that temple worthy LDS shouldn’t marry them.

  220. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 1:52 am

    To clarify the above, the statement that follows ‘what is out of whack’ is me thinking out loud, not a statement of my position on the matter.

    It is interesting that, say, a 18 year old guilty of fornication willl have much less severe church disciplinary consequences than a 50 year old who commits the very same act. There seems to be an allowance made for her/his youth and inexperience, no? Yet we presumably wouldn’t tell an 18 year old, temple married to someone who was a poor choice for her/him, that s/he will somehow be less sealed to that person.

  221. Kaimi on October 1, 2005 at 2:01 am

    Julie writes: “Since I am apparently the cheese standing alone . . .”

    Yes, Julie, but you’re a very tasty cheese. (As are many of your worthy interlocutors).

    Mmm, cheese. Time to go visit the fridge.

  222. Kaimi on October 1, 2005 at 2:05 am

    (I wonder if cheese can be made out of horse milk? Or perhaps deer milk? I don’t think it can be made from chupacabra milk, but I suppose we should leave that question to the experts. . . )

  223. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 2:46 am

    Everyone has a different interpretation of everything. It seems pretty simple, the basic reasons for such strong disagreement.

    If you are more inclined to believe church doctrine is black and white, that leadership statements have a narrow window of interpretation (thus leading to a more singular and perhaps more “correlated” mindset), and that leadership statements and stated current interpretation of scripture trump individual/personal revelation (or that individual revelation should naturally follow said statements or are just personal justifications for deviations)-then you would be more inclined as Julie is to support the argument that singlehood for temple-worthy individuals is better than civil marriage.

    And if you think individual revelation can be different (sometimes opposite) of what the leaders are/have said and be valid, then you would probably disagree with the blanket statement that temple marriage is necessarily better than civil marriage in all cases (for temple-worthy individuals). For the person who believes that the “rules” are not rigid, not black and white, that much will be worked out in the next life (even for those in the church) this leaves room for interpretation.

    For me (why not get personal?) I am of the latter thought. While I see the organizational benefit to the emphasis on the standard, I do not believe that a person who marries outside the temple (but who is temple worthy and maybe even had a temple-worthy potential mate at one point) will definitely not receive exhalation. Even if said person dies before spouse converts. Because maybe, just maybe, that person did pray and receive confirmation that the path to marry outside the temple was the right one for them. Maybe that’s what God in His infinite and sometimes confounding wisdom wanted for that person. Granted, this requires placing an exception to the widely held belief that “if someone has the chance in this life and doesn’t take it, they will not have the chance in the next.” But again, if you place higher importance (not the right word, but I’m not a literary genius like most of the writers here) on leader’s statements/interpretations of the scriptures over individual revelation/contextual interpretation of statements/scriptures, then you would disagree strongly with my logic.

    It all seems subjective to the prioritization and interpretation of scripture, leadership, culture, and personal revelation.

    Julie, I know you are very sincere and faithful (that is obvious), but in your rigid (is that fair?) view of the ideal way to live the gospel, is there room for contextualizing what the leaders say?

    I know this discussion has been sometimes heated, but I’d like to say that I have appreciated it. They’re always more fun with some sparks anyway :)

    Kaimi, thanks for keeping it light. I couldn’t sleep. Maybe I’ll try some cheese.

  224. Amira on October 1, 2005 at 3:21 am

    They make lots of cheese from horse’s milk in Central Asia. You should come try some, Kaimi.

  225. manaen on October 1, 2005 at 4:37 am

    232
    .
    Kayla, I haven’t seen anyone here state the first of your two options.
    .
    Julie wrote:
    .
    “Where on earth did you get the idea that I deny that exceptions do exist? I state precisely the opposite in my first comment, where I note that I’m not going to argue with anyone’s personal revelation to marry a nonmember!” (26)
    .
    “Again, because some of you haven’t noticed the first 40 times I’ve mentioned in: I think individuals can be inspired to do contract civil marriages, but they are the exception, not the rule.”
    .
    .
    The Church published: (129)
    .
    The Ensign published an interview with Elder Marion D. Hanks regarding LDS singles in the March 1989 issue. Here is a passage from that interview:
    .
    Ensign: Some who have not had the opportunity, after many years, to marry a faithful Latter-day Saint wonder whether it would be better to forgo marriage entirely or to marry a good, moral non–Latter-day Saint in order to enjoy the blessings of family life here on earth.
    .
    Elder Hanks: That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis, and essentially it is not a question that one person can answer for another. It must be handled in counsel with our Heavenly Father, and the answer must be sought through the Spirit. There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.
    .
    .
    And see my own experience in (41).

  226. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 9:29 am

    Manaen,

    I’m not denying that. But what the origninal post said was “Specifically, is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage? I don’t think so.”

    If she would have said “Specifically, is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage in ALL cases? I don’t think so.” Then it’s “easier” to swallow.

    I’m not saying it should be easier, that those disclaimers or allowances should have to be emphasized, but in discussions like these, it’s worthwile to remember.

    And I do think the variable of prioritization/emphasis of scripture, leadership, culture, and personal revelation has a lot to do with the angle people are approching this (and any church-related discussion) and how they tend to support their arguments.

  227. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 9:50 am

    Sorry, typo–I meant if she would have said, “Specifically, is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage in MOST [not all] cases? I don’t think so.”

  228. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 11:27 am

    Kayla–

    You grossly misrepresent my position. I have maintained from my very first comment that personal inspiration will lead many people to be exceptions to the rule, to borrow President Kimball’s language. I would not even have a problem, hypothetically, with stating that every single person who is still X years old is an exception to the rule. But the number of exceptions does not change the existence of the rule.

    Kayla, reading manean’s comment, I see that my above paragraph has been addressed. But that makes your response in #235 all the more surprising. It would be literally impossible for a blogger to make any single comment (Even “murder is bad” or “a woman shouldn’t pretend to be a harlot in order to have sex with her father in law” or “a prophet shouldn’t lie to a religious leader about the identity of his wife” or “”follow the prophet”) without noting that there are exceptions to that statement. Maybe a lawyer would be willing to properly annotate every single statement s/he makes on a blog, but I think that for normal people we might be a little more charitable in acknowledging that we all recognize that there are exceptions to every single gospel-related rule, particularly when the author clarifies at least a half dozen times that that is her intent.

  229. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 11:41 am

    M. J. Pritchett–

    I am intrigued by your thoughts on NTM as priesthood ordinances because I have never thought of them in those terms before. As I did think about it, I have some questions. First, we recognize that an ordinance has effects that a non-ordinance doesn’t (for example, there are results of an LDS baptism that we believe do not result from a baptism by someone without priesthood authority). Does this apply to bishop-performed marriages? If so, what are the results that accrue to a bishop-performed marriage that don’t accrue to one done by a judge? I have a hard time imagining any, else people who had been married by a JP would then be encouraged to be married by a bishop, but that isn’t the case. But maybe I am missing something.

    Also, we view other ordinances as being “necessary.” But a bishop-performed marriage isn’t necessary. Does this challenge our view of ordinances or does it mean that a bishop-performed marriage is a special case? I think I have only been to one bishop-performed marriage and as I was busy baby-chasing, I cannot say that I remember much . . . is there specific language that must be used as there is with other ordinances? If so, what is it? Any other data points?

  230. B on October 1, 2005 at 11:50 am

    A baby blessing is an ordinance that isn’t “necessary.” It’s performed “by the power of the Melchizedek priesthood.” Yet when someone joins the church as an adult, or even when a non-infant child starts attending church with newly converted parents, no one insists that they receive “a name and a blessing.” Blessings on the sick are similar. It seems like a bishop’s blessing (so to speak) on a marriage would also be similar.

  231. meems on October 1, 2005 at 12:08 pm

    This has been a fascinating thread for a couple of days. Married to a non-member, I often think about this myself. If I had the chance to do it all over again, would I marry my husband? The answer is, I don’t know, but I actually think I would. I love him and always have and even if I had the power to go back in time, knowing what I know now, I couldn’t abandon him, because that is precisely what I would be doing. Prior to my marriage, I considered abandoning him then; but I couldn’t do it. He’s worth it. And sometimes I consider the fact that we were married outside the temple as my sacrifice for him. I often think of the quote from Corinthians or wherever, that was previously mentioned in this thread, that the believer sanctifies the non-believer. In effect, I am sacrificing my eternal progression to possibly help my husband in the tiniest of ways (IF I set a good example — but that’s not always the easiest thing to do!) After I was married and thought to myself, “what did I DO? How can I possibly “repent” of this choice that will limit me forever?” And then I thought of divorce, and remarrying some other person in the temple, or just staying single, but what good would that serve? Completely alienating the person with whom I most want to share the gospel? Completely wrong! In my patriarchial belssing, which I received after I married, I am assured that I will be able to still have an eternal family and be sealed to a “worthy priesthood holder of *my choice*”. Maybe that means my husband will someday be a worthy priesthood member. Maybe that means I’ll have the opportunity to fall in love again , even though I couldn’t fathom loving anyone but him. This may answer a few questions I have seen earlier on this thread about “if you make the wrong choice when you had the opportunity to make the right choice will you be denied blessings forever”, and being “assigned” to be sealed to someone in the hereafter, etc, etc. Evidently, we get more than one chance. The thing that bums me out the most though, is when I finally got my endowments on my own. My mom, who never married (that’s right, never married), is now a temple worker. I have two young kids. I had it in my head that we could all be sealed together, mom, me, kids, and was completely surprised and saddened to learn that I couldn’t be sealed to my mom and my kids could never be sealed to me because *children aren’t sealed to their parents, but to the covenent*. I’ve never done a sealing in the temple, so I don’t know the answer to this, but are marriage sealings also a sealing to the covenent? If kids aren’t actually sealed to their parents per se, are couples actually sealed to each other?? Would this account for some of the mystery involved with what happens to couples who divorce but are still “sealed”? Anybody know? Is it just a sealing free-for-all in the celestial kingdom?
    Finally, It IS harder being married to a non-member, there’s no question, and I feel like a second class citizen at church often, and that some members look at my kids like they aren’t as “good” of spirit children because they weren’t born under the covenant like their children were and so on. But I would rather my kids and husband have some gospel influence in their lives (via me, however imperfect), than none at all.
    I love them.

  232. M.J. Pritchett on October 1, 2005 at 12:44 pm

    There is specified languagage for the “ordinance” part of the wedding ceremony. However, since I am no longer serving as a bishop I don’t have access to the current handbook of instructions, I can’t give you the exact language. Hopefully someone else can.

    It’s basic, but quite nice. Interestingly, it’s less “sexist” than some more traditional ceremonies. All of the couples I married included a member and non-member, and both parties were pleased with the language of the ceremony. Actually, meeting with these couples and being part of planning their wedding ceremonies was one of the really enjoyable parts of my sevice as bishop.

    I define ordinances as priesthood ceremonies. Not all ordiances are required for salvation: health blessings, ordination to the Aaronic priesthood, dedication of graves, setting apart to offices and callings.

    As to the benefits of a bishop performed ceremony, there are blessings pronounced in the name of Jesus Chist included in the ceremony, which seem valuable. If it make sense to have your grave blessed, why not your marriage?

    I don’t know what the current handbook says about marriage by a bishop. I was released about 7 years ago, before the current handbook. As I recall, the handbook encouraged members who were not being married in the temple to be married by a bishop (or stake president).

    I’m sure you could find some Ohio/Nauvoo era statements about the validity of marriage performed by the power of the priesthood and the invalidity of civil marriages, but those statments would be tainted with the polygamy issues, so it is hard to know how much relevance they have today.

    Interestingly, though there is encouragement to be married by the bishop, there is no encouragement to be married in the church building, and some discouragement about being married in the chapel–though I have known that to happen. Fortunately, our chapels rarely have a center aisle for the bride to walk down, so they are really unsuited for a traditional wedding ceremony. I never had trouble convincing couples to be married outside (this is Northern California after all) and that gave a lot more flexibility in what could be done appropriately.

    I officiated in a very memorable outdoor Scottish-style wedding with a bagpipe band and the men of the wedding party wearing kilts. (Both the bride and groom were heavily involved in bagpipe bands.) However, I drew the line at wearing a kilt myself, but everyone was happy with my compromise of a dark suit, white shirt and subtle tartan tie. I did manage to include Robert Burns in my (short) wedding semon, as well.

  233. Gavin McGraw on October 1, 2005 at 1:28 pm

    …I did manage to include Robert Burns in my (short) wedding semon…

    “Aye, and a man’s a man for a’that!”

  234. Hannah G. on October 1, 2005 at 2:02 pm

    The question I have had, not just while reading this thread, but when I’ve heard statements that speak of people who marry outside the temple forfeiting blessings, is how this relates to the idea of repentence. If it is considered a sin (meaning that it separates one from God) or a mistake to marry outside of the temple and this results in forfeiting blessings, then how does one repent from it? If we believe that repentence is real, that the Atonement makes it possible for people to still have the blessings of living with God if they repent, then how does being forever denied the blessings of sealing in the afterlife come into play? I suppose there is some sort of argument that runs along the lines of, “Sure, you can repent, but you can’t escape the consequences of your sin/mistake.”
    I agree that there would be consequences that you wouldn’t be able to escape…but would those consequences necessarily have to be the forfeiture forever of the chance to live with God in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom or to be sealed to your family in the hereafter? If the answer is “yes,” then why is it that when the gravest sins are discussed, the sin of marrying outside the covenant isn’t mentioned more forcefully? Why is it that even the sin of adultery can be repented of with those blessings still intact?
    It seems to me that when the marriage question is discussed by the Brethren, it is discussed as a very crucial question where there is a much preferred answer and a not-preferred answer. But I don’t usually hear the not-preferred answer referred to as a sin…Is it? Is it a sin to marry outside of the temple? If so, how does one go about repenting for it?
    I am new to posting on these boards (I’ve only done it maybe twice before, and never on T&S), though I have lurked for a long time. And I’m quite young too, so I am very intimidated by everyone! So please be kind. I am sincere in my questions, as it is something I have been thinking about for a while. I would appreciate any thoughts people had.

  235. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    B–

    I see your point. I have probably erred in comflating the categories of “ordinance” with “essential ordinance.”

    M. J.–Very interesting, thank you very much.

    Hannah G.– Good questions, thank you for posting. When I follow your line of thinking, I feel to conclude, “Well, marrying out of the temple is, of course, not an unpardonable sin [I'm not even comfortable calling it a sin at all, I'd stick with 'missed opportunity'] so of course one should somehow be able to move past that decision and inherit eternal blessings.” But the other side of that coin is that if Sister X is married to Good Gentile Y and at the last day she is worthy of the blessings of temple marriage but he (despite being an all-around good guy) isn’t, then what happens? God cannot give Y blessings that he hasn’t qualified for by keeping the covenants. In short, I have no good answer. Maybe someone else will weigh in.

  236. John C. on October 1, 2005 at 2:22 pm

    Julie,
    I would think that if the model for the “last days” is the build-up to Christ’s coming in the Book of Mormon, then the model of the millenium could be 4th Nephi. I don’t think that “all-around good guys” (or gals) will wind up separated from their loved ones.

    John C. (patiently waiting for an “all around good guy” father to get his act together)

  237. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 2:25 pm

    John C,

    I like what you say with every fiber of my being. At the same time, I’m not sure how to separate it from this conclusion: even if one doesn’t enter into covenants, one will ultimately receive the blessings of those covenants. This seems to make nonsense of the idea of covenants. If there is a way out of this conclusion, please let me know what it is.

  238. John C. on October 1, 2005 at 2:33 pm

    Ultimately, I think the parable of the laborers is discussing the ultimate and most important blessing. I think that this may well be available to anyone who wants it, since repentance appears to be possible up to the point of the judgment. That said, if you don’t want to wait to be eligible for blessings, then get going now.

    Does that make sense, or is it too much of a non-sequitor?

  239. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    John C–

    In the parable of the laborers, all *want* to work. If you assume that eventually everyone will *want* temple blessings, then this works out fine (I think). It would go along with “every knee shall bow, every tongue confess.” But is also seems to undermine the idea of free agency. If, ultimately, every single one of us will inherit everything anyway, what’s the rush? Let’s ditch conference and go get a beer! (grin)

  240. C Jones on October 1, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    Re: #243-246
    These thoughts are not a direct quote, but from notes taken in a class years ago. These concepts have been valuable to me in forming my understanding of the plan of salvation. I don’t know if they will be useful here. Maybe those of you with stronger reasoning skills can elaborate.

    “Premortality was an infinite state, with actions taken there having infinite consequences. We are in a finite state in this life to learn by opposition to understand infinity. This is why the 1/3 cast out of heaven are cast out forever- infinite consequences. This is also why the atonement had to be performed by an infinite being with an infinite nature. Adam chose to be responsible for the fall which leaves God free to save us. Here, opposites exist but consequences are postponed. ”

    Thus, we can repent. If the millenium is still considered a mortal state and not an infinite one, it follows that repentance could still be possible there, taking advantage of the atonement and avoiding the infinite consequence that Satan and his followers suffered.

  241. John C. on October 1, 2005 at 3:05 pm

    Julie,
    Why postpone blessings if you can have them now? It seems that the church is meant to bless in this life, not just the next.
    Again, regarding the free will issue, I would look to 4th Nephi. I think that the “millenium” model will be somewhat similar.

  242. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 3:09 pm

    C Jones, I’d never argue that repentence is impossible after mortality, but is it guaranteed that all will repent after this life? And is it your position that there are *no* actions one can take in mortality with infinite consequences? I don’t think I could accept that.

    John C–I agree with you about the benefits of blessings here and now. Maybe you could elaborate a little more on 4th Nephi as the millenium model because I think I know what you mean, but I’m not sure, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

  243. John C. on October 1, 2005 at 3:16 pm

    I suppose that I think that just as everyone is guaranteed to sin here on temporal earth, even though no-one is compelled to (at least, initially), everyone will eventually repent on millenial earth (or associated spirit realms) even though they won’t be compelled to. I know that Brigham quote that there will be Baptists, Methodists, etc. in the millenium and I don’t doubt it. I just think that eventually these distinctions will be overcome and we won’t have -isms anymore (it will help that Christ will be on the earth). In 4th Nephi, everyone eventually joins the church, though no-one is forced to. It just happens. This is, I suspect, the fate of most people.

  244. C Jones on October 1, 2005 at 3:28 pm

    “And is it your position that there are *no* actions one can take in mortality with infinite consequences?”
    I would probably say the opposite- that all actions in mortality have infinite consequences. They are only postponed for a time. It is only through an atonement made by an infinite being that they can be avoided.

    ” but is it guaranteed that all will repent after this life? ”
    The presence of Jesus on the earth during his mortal ministry didn’t guarantee universal repentance.

  245. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    John C and C Jones–

    What you both say sounds reasonable to me. But let’s bring it back to the original topic of NTM: What, precisely, are the “grave risks” that the prophets mention in association with NTM if it is all going to work out in the end anyway? (This is an honest question.)

  246. manaen on October 1, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    243,
    Hannah, an excellent question. I believe it leads to one of the fundamental problems in this discussion. It’s like the difference between salvation and exaltation (See #70 in God’s Plan of Grace (/of Love/of Happiness/of Salvation) on this site).

    FWIW, my understanding is that a sin is something that damages the soul, that takes away from you, that takes you down. We can repent of our sins and be restored to spiritual health, but that only frees us, it doesn’t add blessings. Of course, repentance opens a door to guidance by the Holy Ghost and other blessings but those require something more than repentance to receive them.

    Then there are things that elevate you from where you are. A good civil marriage will lift you, but nowhere near as high as will a good temple marriage. In my view, a civil marriage isn’t a sin, but it may preclude you from the further heights available through a temple marriage and we do not have any promises that won’t happen. Instead, we have warnings like Elder Hanks “There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.” (129 above). He doesn’t talk about sin and repentance, but failing to obtain greater blessings in addition to our current state.

    The difference literally is the same as between good people creating a terrestrial life that will continue eternally and good people being elevated/exalted to celestiality through priesthood ordinances and commitment to following all of God’s way to the highest rewards.

  247. John C. on October 1, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    I would again say that there are blessings that you deny yourself so long as you refrain from making covenants (outside of the possibility of marrying someone who hides their disdain of the church in the hopes that you will snap out of it). I think that the grave risk is that, although the possibility of a bad mixed marriage is just as bad as the possibility of a bad member family, with a mixed marriage people are more likely to identify the church as the source of contention and do away with involvement therein, cutting themselves off from some covenant renewing activities.

  248. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    Julie,

    You see “rules” and others see “guidelines.” You emphasize that deviations from that “rule” are exceptions, not valid alternatives. These are very different things. That is what I was trying to get at. I don’t think I grossly misinterpreted the dialogue here.

    Also, your statement in #201 that “sometimes there are people inspired to make exceptions. Let’s also note that his [Kimball's] exception mentioned is geography, not age or desperation or hormones.” Your emphais that the exception is physical, not emotional indicates a lot. You’ve never said, “people should do what they feel is right.” Because what is right, for you, is defined much by authoritative church statements. All I’m saying is that other’s may think personal revelation is more important than said authoritiative statements, and so would not likely think in terms of rules, or unversal ideals; but rather personal preference and positive results. Perhaps this (latter) person would not make a good Mormon.

  249. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    Kayla–

    I don’t understand where you are going with the difference between ‘rules’ and ‘guidelines’ or ‘exceptions’ and ‘valid alternatives.’ If you could sketch out the differences that you find in these terms, then maybe we can pursue this.

    As far as your second paragraph, I think that personal revelation should trump authoritative statements, and I’ve said that from the beginning. But then there is a huge gulf between “personal revelation” and “personal preference,” and my concern is that some (not that this is your position) are willing to marry out of the temple as a result of “personal preference” without “personal revelation.” They aren’t the same thing, and the difference matters a lot.

  250. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 4:52 pm

    Julie,

    I’m just saying that people perceive things differently. Have you ever taken a personality test such as Myers-Briggs? I ask because at work recently, our work group took an entire day to learn about this philosophy (it’s not perfect, but it is insightful and helped a lot of us understand each other better). My point is that you seem to see things more rigidly, and others are more flexible (with interpretations, ideals, etc). That’s all. By the way, I’d be willing to bet that you are an ISTJ. Absolutely nothing wrong with that if you are, but the church organization itself could perhaps be classified as an ISTJ, and therefore you fit right in. (sorry for the side-track that is not really relevent).

    Rules imply rigidity while guidelines imply flexibility. Exceptions imply that those “paths” are “less than” while valid alternatives are equal to the “rule.” Ugh, I’m sorry if I’m still ambiguous.

    you’re statement, “But then there is a huge gulf between “personal revelation” and “personal preference,” and my concern is that some (not that this is your position) are willing to marry out of the temple as a result of “personal preference” without “personal revelation.” They aren’t the same thing, and the difference matters a lot.” I agree with this absolutely.

  251. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 5:01 pm

    If you have reached the conclusion that I think someone receiving personal revelation to enter a NTM is doing “less” than you have misread me.

    BTW, I haven’t done a personality test. But I can assure you that I am uptight (grin).

    I think I am getting hung up on your use of the word “flexible.” To me, there is no flexibility–you are either following the Lord’s will for your life or you are not. The default settting, if you will, is that the Lord’s will is for you to marry in the Temple. In some cases, the Lord’s will is for you to enter a NTM. You are to follow the will of the Lord in either case. To me, introducing the word ‘flexibility’ into this context suggests that the Lord tells you to do something (either temple marriage or NTM) and you then get to exercise flexibility as you decide whether to follow him or not and either one is OK. Clearly, I wouldn’t agree with that. Perhaps you are using the word differently; in that case, you’ll need to let me know.

  252. John C. on October 1, 2005 at 5:14 pm

    Thinking about reasons why people usually say that mixed-member families are less desirable, I got curious and came up with the following poll for members of such families to answer. So, please take it, results will be posted.

    Click here to take the Part-Member survey

  253. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 5:24 pm

    Julie,

    I just tend to think that the Lord himself has flexible plans for all of us, that there is no default. That “the Lord’s will for all of us” is more individually diverse than similar. I think, essentially, that there are more exceptions/variations than rules and you may think (as the general leadership surely does) opposite.

    you should try the personality test, just type myers briggs into google. could make for a fun post after all the conference posts are done. http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp
    It’s just interesting to me to that we all have such different perspectives that may be cultural or fundamental.

  254. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 5:35 pm

    OK, Kayla, here’s the crux: the Lord has all sorts of different plans in mind for different individuals. This is what you are calling flexibility, and claiming to be a good thing. I’m all over this.

    However, I think that the Lord has precisely one plan in mind for any individual person*, and that any use of the term ‘flexibility’ in that context means whether you have any flexbility in following what the Lord has planned for you personally. In that case, I think ‘flexibility’ is a weasel-word for ‘ignoring the promptings of the Spirit.’

    * There are exceptions. A dear friend prayed her head off to try to figure out which of two school the Lord wanted her to attend and finally figured out that either was OK with him. Perhaps there’s also a small minority for whom the Lord would be OK with a temple marriage or NTM. But, in general, I believe that he has a specific plan for each person.

  255. John C. on October 1, 2005 at 5:35 pm

    I think, essentially, that there are more exceptions/variations than rules and you may think (as the general leadership surely does) opposite.

    My experience with priesthood leadership has always tended toward exceptions/variations in practice and strict interpretation in rhetoric. I don’t know that you have drawn up this spectrum appropriately.

  256. C Jones on October 1, 2005 at 5:35 pm

    Julie, I agree with you in your firm belief that temple marriage in this life is what our Heavenly Father desires for all of us and is the only way to the highest exaltation. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. In skimming through quite a few scriptures and prophetic statements on this subject, there really isn’t much wiggle room. Manaen’s last two paragraphs in #255 do a good job of defining the grave risks. But I still have great hope for those with circumstances that make reaching their heartfelt desire of a temple marriage difficult. I believe there is yet room for miracles and mercy.

    I also need to clarify that when I said (#249) that repentance may still be possible in the millenium, I find that I wasn’t taking into account the fact that only those worthy to come forth in the first resurrection will be present on earth during the millenium. That would include good people who lived and died during times and in places where the gospel wasn’t available. So repentance during the millenium may be a non-issue.

    As far as the difference between perceiving something as a rule or a guideline, we should probably remember that the subject of temple marriage involves sacred covenants we make with God. If you think that a covenant can ever be seen as merely a guideline, just try telling your bank that you perceive your agreement to pay your mortgage on time as a “guideline” and see how long you get to stay in your home : )

  257. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 5:42 pm

    However, I think that the Lord has precisely one plan in mind for any individual person*, and that any use of the term ‘flexibility’ in that context means whether you have any flexbility in following what the Lord has planned for you personally. In that case, I think ‘flexibility’ is a weasel-word for ‘ignoring the promptings of the Spirit.’

    “Julie, I agree with you in your firm belief that temple marriage in this life is what our Heavenly Father desires for all of us and is the only way to the highest exaltation.”

    See. This is what I’m talking about. FIRM belief, for ALL OF US, ONLY WAY. This rhetoric implies rigidity. Those who believe that it may be possible for God to actually desire for an individual the exception (given that they are following personal revelation) don’t beleive that temple marriage IN THIS LIFE is the ONLY way to the highest exaltation.

  258. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 5:44 pm

    Please ignore the previous posts, I kept hitting the tab key then enter.

    “However, I think that the Lord has precisely one plan in mind for any individual person*, and that any use of the term ‘flexibility’ in that context means whether you have any flexbility in following what the Lord has planned for you personally. In that case, I think ‘flexibility’ is a weasel-word for ‘ignoring the promptings of the Spirit.’ ”

    I mean that the Lord himself has flexibility, and its up to us to determine the Lords plan for us primarilty through personal means. There’s not disagreement here.

    “Julie, I agree with you in your firm belief that temple marriage in this life is what our Heavenly Father desires for all of us and is the only way to the highest exaltation.”

    See. This is what I’m talking about. FIRM belief, for ALL OF US, ONLY WAY. This rhetoric implies rigidity. Those who believe that it may be possible for God to actually desire for an individual the exception (given that they are following personal revelation) don’t beleive that temple marriage IN THIS LIFE is the ONLY way to the highest exaltation.

  259. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 5:48 pm

    Kayla, those are C Jones’ words, not mine, yet you appear to use them as if they are mine.

    There’s also some ambiguity in his words that I think you are exploiting. I do not think that “temple marriage IN THIS LIFE is the ONLY way to the highest exaltation” (I don’t think C Jones does, either; I think that C Jones meant ‘in this life’ to modify ‘God’s desire,’ not ‘only way.’)

  260. C Jones on October 1, 2005 at 5:52 pm

    Kayla- Temple marriage in this life is not the only way to exaltation, but is is the only way to the highest degree of the the Celestial Kingdom, or in other words, the highest exaltation. Many will reach other degrees of exaltation, hence the many degrees of glory and the many levels of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom.

    You may be right that for some reason (I can’t imagine why, maybe you could help me out with that) God doesn’t want some of his children to reach the highest exaltation, but sure I hope I’m not on that list…

  261. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 5:54 pm

    Julie,

    Fair enough, but the point of my posts is that people see things differently, which leads to arguments (I was originally trying to explain the fundamental origins of those arguments as basic perception/prioritization differences).

    I know C Jones words weren’t yours, but it is telling that he said “julie, I agree with you…” He was paraphrasing you perhaps inaccurately, but his persepciton still included “firm, only, in this life”

  262. C Jones on October 1, 2005 at 5:55 pm

    And yes, I did mean in this life to modify “God’s desire” , but failed to remove “in this life from comment #269. I also forgot to close my italic tag…

  263. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 6:02 pm

    C Jones, I simply disagree with you. I used highest exhaltation to mean highest degree of the celestial kingdom. I don’t believe that in all cases, temple marriage in this life is necessary. I think things will get worked out in the end and you have to trust the Lord. And if personal revelation has confirmed that getting married to a non-member is what is right for you, that does not automatically negate highest exhaltation (highest degree in the celestial kingdom). This is becuase I think personal revelation can sometimes go against authoritative statements, because God can have different plans for us that may end in the same result.

  264. C Jones on October 1, 2005 at 6:19 pm

    Kayla, I’m the first to admit that I can be less than clear in what I’m trying to say. Here’s where I think we agree:
    We have to trust the Lord. ( I hoped to hint at that when I said “But I still have great hope for those with circumstances that make reaching their heartfelt desire of a temple marriage difficult. I believe there is yet room for miracles and mercy”.)
    Personal revelation can confirm that marriage to a non-member is right for someone.
    God can have plans for us that may end in the same result.

    I know this because I married a non-member at a time in my life when I really didn’t have an understanding of the importance of gospel covenants, and my husband did later join the church. I can only speculate that God’s plan for me may have been to put my husband and I in a position to do the temple work for his faithful and religious ancestors who were waiting for that. Yet I’m still willing to accept that I put my exaltation at grave risk, and willing to accept the consequences of that.

    Here’s where I think we disagree:
    The highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom requires the sealing ordinance, whether in this life, or in work done for the dead.

    I’ve never, ever, read or seen or heard any prophet or scripture say otherwise. So you may think differently, but without some evidence, I’m afraid I won’t be able to just take your word for it : )

  265. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    “Here’s where I think we disagree:
    The highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom requires the sealing ordinance, whether in this life, or in work done for the dead.”

    No, I guess we would agree here, but what I think that someone who marries outside the temple in this life (because of personal revelation–because for them, that’s what the Lord wants for whatever reason) will have the chance to attain the highest degree of the CK even if that person’s spouce doesn’t necessarily convert in this life, even if they die before it can happen (maybe by work done in the hereafter). you’re original statements did not seem to imply as much.

  266. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 6:29 pm

    Kayla, I’m not arguing with you here, but here’s an interesting (to me, anyway) thought experiment:

    Sister X marries Good Gentile Y, acting under inspiration. Would God inspire Sister X to do something that would forever deny her the highest degree of glory? (I’d have a hard time with that idea.) So: we can assume that Good Gentile Y must someday become Brother Y and sealed to Sister X. (I’m good with this so far.) Hence, was can assume that any time God inspires someone to go for a NTM, implicit in that inspiration is the promise that the spouse will someday convert. (Oops, that doesn’t seem like a reasonable conclusion at all. I’ve dropped the ball somewhere.)

    Anyone?

  267. C Jones on October 1, 2005 at 6:49 pm

    “The highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom requires the sealing ordinance, whether in this life, or in work done for the dead.”

    For me, the ideas in this thread are a work in progress. I’d have to modify the above to include the blessings promised to those who never had the opportunity for marriage in the temple during their lifetime. It seems reasonable that those worthy of the first resurrection, married (but unable to go to the temple, though they would have done so given the opportunity) and unmarried (through the same lack of opportunity), will have access to the sealing ordinance during the millenium.

  268. Mark Butler on October 1, 2005 at 7:19 pm

    Julie, What is the justification for the assumption that God is unable or unwilling to provide a different worthy spouse in the afterlife for Sister X if Good Gentile Y never comes around? He does this for worthy never married singles, right?

    Is it just to penalize those who try to fulfil his plan to the greatest degree possible rather than wait indefinitely in an all-or-nothing state?

  269. Sara R on October 1, 2005 at 8:19 pm

    The iron rod is rigid. The doctrine of the strait and narrow path is rigid. The idea that there is only one way to God may sound “rigid” to our modern ears, but it is nevertheless doctrine.

    At this point it seems as if the argument isn’t so much about non-temple marriage as about how much one should heed the words of the prophets. I think for all of us there comes a time where you just have to trust God, that he knows what is best for you, that following his plan will bring you more happiness than you can create by doing it your own way. This is what I think Elder Maxwell meant when he said that giving your will to God is the only thing that is uniquely yours that you can give to God. God’s will for your own life, whether revealed through the words of the prophets or through personal revelation, should trump personal preference for everyone who wants to return to God. Everyone is faced with choices between what they personally think is right and what God thinks is right. Choosing what God wants you to do, despite having personal reservations, requires faith.

    My whole soul really rebelled at this idea in my young adulthood, until I understood that God really does know more than me, and he really does want what is best for me. Once my soul accepted that, I could understand why I should obey even when I didn’t understand why.

  270. Kayla on October 1, 2005 at 8:34 pm

    Sara,

    This is what I’ve been saying. Just that God’s will for individuals is not always the same, does not always follow the same “rigid” path–so maybe there are multiple paths to God. And of course God knows more than us, and you’re right that it is sometimes hard to let go of old opinions and accept the Lord’s over our own.

  271. Boston Legal on October 1, 2005 at 8:39 pm

    Comment removed for violating T&S comment policies

  272. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 8:55 pm

    Mark in #277-

    Certainly it is possible that Sister X will end up with Handsome Hunk Who Died Single Q in the next life. Good observation.

  273. Sara R on October 1, 2005 at 9:21 pm

    Kayla, I don’t understand. You say that I was saying what you were saying, but I think we still disagree. If there were multiple paths to God, then there would be multiple iron rods and many strait and narrow paths, right? I grant you that God doesn’t tell us everything we need to do. We shouldn’t be asking for personal revelation to decide which can of soup to buy. But if God speaks, either through his prophets or through personal revelation (or he would have spoken through personal revelation but we weren’t listening to the Spirit), then we need to obey or else we will not receive the blessing associated with obedience to that commandment. That may be rigid, but God’s word is like that.

  274. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 9:22 pm

    Oops, didn’t finish my thought with regard to Mark #277:

    However, if a Saint contracts a NTM with the thought, “Well, since God inspired me to marry this person, either this person will undergo a fundamental change and accept the gospel, or I’ll get a new one in the next life!” seems a little crass to me. Or maybe I am overreading.

  275. Gabrielle on October 1, 2005 at 10:39 pm

    Julie,

    It’s late Saturday, my husband left to the priesthood session and I sat down at the computer and happened on this post for the first time. I just read the entire thing.

    My understanding is that no one who disagreed with you was saying that temple marriage is not the ideal or should not be taught as priority. Everyone seems to agree on this point.

    And yet, so many exceptions to temple marriage exist. It seems kinder to assume that each and every one was inspired by HF through personal revelation. (What is the alternative? Trying to guess which marriages are not inspired? : ) )

    To say: “non-temple marriage is better than no marriage”, seems agreeable, (and in-line with doctrine) if we assume ALL marriage by church members is prayfully and seriously considered — and inspired — before it happens. Or having received no affirmative answer from HF about an impending match, we assume any faithful parties in question would remain single.

    You have made lots of room in your arguments for personal revelation, but I don’t see where anyone disagreeing with you about “temple-marriage only” has implied that someone choosing a NTM is doing so casually or without prayer.

  276. B on October 1, 2005 at 10:46 pm

    It seems to me that as people focus on the “grave risk” of a good nonmember spouse never converting, the “grave risk” being ignored is that the good temple-worthy spouse may fall away, at least to the extent of not enduring to the end and being found worthy of the highest level of the CK. What are the respective odds, I wonder? There may be a difference, but I’ll bet it’s slight.

    My guess is that a 50-year-old Gentile whom one has known one’s whole life to have a consistently Christlike character would be a better bet for the CK than any 21-year-old, temple-worthy RM no matter how good the 21-year-old’s character seems to be, or actually is up to this point in his life. The young person may or may not have his character indelibly etched in him yet, no matter how much he might think he has. He’s still in a crucible of parental and peer expectations that he hasn’t been independent from long enough to really be able to decide what he personally plans to do with his life. How grave is the risk that when he’s achieved the high-pressure, high-visibility goals of mission and marriage that he will turn into an aimless slob with virtually no moral direction whatever? How grave is the risk that he has been hiding his same-sex attraction issues from everyone including himself, and when they emerge, will he abandon his wife to go deal with them? How grave is the risk that some experience will come along to convince him that the church is not true after all, and that his church-related covenants aren’t worth keeping, and then how far will he go with reconsidering all the morals that had previously guided his life?

    OTOH, the older Gentile has for decades been willingly “keeping” a covenant to follow Christ, even though he hasn’t even formally made such a covenant, and is totally not expecting an eternal reward for righteousness or eternal punishment for iniquity; he’s just consistently doing the right things because they’re the right things to do. Don’t you think that would impress the heck out of God at the judgment day? I do.

    In short, I think the formalities of the covenants matter a lot less than most church members seem to think they do. If believing that one has made a special promise in a special way via a special authority helps one keep that promise, then great. Every little bit helps. But if someone manages to keep the gist of that same promise without having had that little boost of special faith to help them, well, I think they’re just as well off in God’s eyes. He looks not on the outward appearance of the clothes worn and words said during the covenant-making, but he looks on the heart.

    And then if/when in the spirit world, a deceased Gentile spirit suddenly realizes that God really did want everyone to spend a few minutes wearing those particular clothes and saying those particular words, and it wasn’t just formalistic, legalistic nonsense like it honestly appeared to the Gentile to be, then why should God be forced to say that the Gentile’s life of righteousness counts for less? All it takes is a few minutes in a temple, and poof! The last hoop has then been jumped through. I think that’s a lot easier than a change of character, or altering the course of a developing character.

  277. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 10:49 pm

    Gabrielle–

    I think we are largely in agreement except for one thing and I think it is revealed in this comment:

    ” (What is the alternative? Trying to guess which marriages are not inspired? : ) )”

    I’ve tried to make it clear through the length of this debate that NOTHING in this thread (from me, anyway) is about judging marriages that already exist, everything is about how we would advise a single LDS contemplating switching to date nonmembers in the hopes of contracting a NTM instead of remaining single. I’m not sure if you read the comments at M* that started this whole thing off, but that was the scenario: deliberately deciding (no mention of personal inspiration) to date nonmembers instead of members to increase the likelihood of *any* marriage occuring instead of remaining single. Because this is contrary to prophetic counsel, I have opposed it.

    I’ve been rather adamant that while we might advise against certain marriages, based on prophetic counsel, that once those marriages are entered into, our duty shifts to supporting the family unit.

  278. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 10:50 pm

    BTW, Gabrielle, I think you deserve some kind of award for reading this all in one sitting. That’s amazing.

  279. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 10:53 pm

    B–

    That grave risk wasn’t ignored: it was mentioned in my very first comment and several times thereafter.

    The problem, B, is that most 50yos don’t marry 20yos and vice versa. So your scenario is unfair in comparing them as if one individual were deciding between the two. Rather, a 20yo must decide between a templeworhty 20yo and a not-templeworthy 20yo, while a 50yo must decide between a templeworthy 50yo and a not-templeworthy 50yo.

    “In short, I think the formalities of the covenants matter a lot less than most church members seem to think they do.”

    We’ll have to agree to disagree there, as I believe that covenants matter a great deal.

  280. Gabrielle on October 1, 2005 at 11:05 pm

    I only read a few of the comments of M*.

    I understand you have fully supported and continue to support existing part-member families. (The smiley face at the end of my “guessing which marriages” comment was supposed to imply that I understood you would not consider doing this type of judging.)

    But, the deliberate decision to date nonmembers, whether specifically inspired or not, should not imply that when a marriage proposal is on the table, personal revelation will not be sought.

    And your position about NOT deliberately dating non-members seems to also imply that NTM won’t be an issue for anyone committed to only dating members. This seems too simple. People fall in love without dating all the time. Maybe they’re on the same project at work, or have a class together. After BYU and singles wards, it would seem rare that any potential marriage relationship starts or advances with straight-forward dating.

  281. Julie in Austin on October 1, 2005 at 11:24 pm

    Gabrielle,

    We don’t, in the church, say in effect: “There’s no point in defending a general policy since we should assume that anyone who strays from it was personally inspired.” Think of the counsel about mothers staying home with their young children: we don’t see the Brethren reasoning that any woman who would do that is obviously acting under inspiration so there is no point in mentioning that, in general, mothers should be home with their kids.

    Of course, if it were a friend of mine contemplating a NTM, I would assume that s/he was seeking revelation and I’d keep my big trap shut. But, when we are talking about general policies and their general applicability, we shouldn’t be afraid to articulate a rule.

    No, Gabrielle, I wasn’t suggesting that people couldn’t fall in love without dating. That’s obviously a possibility. But, again, our starting point was a comment at M* that specifically suggested that if you weren’t having luck dating members, you should try the gentiles. That’s what we are discussing on this thread.

  282. Gabrielle on October 1, 2005 at 11:39 pm

    Julie,

    I think we’re in agreement. We should definitely defend church policy. I’m just not clear that that the church policy of temple-marriage-as-goal is under attack or in need of defense — even if people choose to date non-members.

    Actually, I just read the “trading places” thread and I was feeling bad for even engaging you. You don’t get a minutes rest, do you?

    It’s 11:36 and I’m morning-sick with number 5. I should be asleep — I’m just holding out for a post-priesthood-session-re-cap. President Hinkley seems to sometimes save the cool announcements for priesthood session. Oh. I hear the door now. Good night.

  283. manaen on October 2, 2005 at 12:56 am

    277
    “What is the justification for the assumption that God is unable or unwilling to provide a different worthy spouse in the afterlife for Sister X if Good Gentile Y never comes around?”

    One answer is the quote from Elder Hanks we’ve discussed before (129), “There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel”

    “He does this for worthy never married singles, right?”
    Not if they passed on legitimate opportunity.

    “For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.” (Alma 34:32.)

    I doubt that God will let us shirk responsibility to do what we can in this life that he gave us to prepare to meet him and then say that we can use the next life to catch up.

    My understanding is that the Lord will give a *first* chance in the next life for baptism, endowment, or sealing to people who did not have the opportunity here (I believe opportunity includes all of: physical opportunity ((hearing the gospel or being able to attend the temple)), being aware of opportunity, and having confirmation by the Holy Ghost that baptism, endowment, sealing are God’s plan) but that nobody gets a second chance. The D&C says those in the *terrestrial* kingdom are the ones that got there on a second chance, “Who received [‘accepted’, not ‘had it presented’] not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.” (D&C 76:74). I believe the same standard holds for temple blessings. So, if a never-married single passes on legitimate opportunity for good temple marriage, I don’t see another chance coming in the next life. Where do you draw the line at what is a legitimate opportunity? As mission HQ used to tell us, “Use your own inspiration, Elder.”

    “Is it just to penalize those who try to fulfil his plan to the greatest degree possible rather than wait indefinitely in an all-or-nothing state?” As I mentioned in #255, this isn’t penalizing so much as receiving the increase that we choose: to a terrestrial or to a celestial glory. Of course there won’t be a restriction if they are “trying to the greatest degree”. But, as mentioned in the last paragraph, I doubt that someone could just choose NTM and expect a chance for a temple marriage later.

  284. manaen on October 2, 2005 at 1:07 am

    275
    Julie, we could assume that inspiration to NTM means that GG Y will become Brother Y.

    We also could assume the marriage will dissolve before Sister X’s death because of hubby’s death or through divorce. The inspiration then could have been because:
    * One or both of them will learn something from their marriage that will be useful later. E.g. annegb’s second marriage in # 69.
    * The marriage could create some other useful purpose like these two accomplishing some work together, their children may have a need for these particular parents, I don’t know.

  285. Carolyn on October 2, 2005 at 1:35 am

    I have read the posts with some bemusement. I think everyone needs to get real. I am single (never married). For me this topic is not just theoretical.

    Does anyone really believe that non-members are lining up to marry members of the church? (Maybe at one time. I hear stories…) My experience (and that of a number of my single friends) is that church standards can be enormously intimidating to those not of our faith. This becomes more and more the case as the gap between the church and the world widens.

    Case in point, most of the “single” men I meet who are not members are either co-habitating or expect to do so. (This was not as prevalent even a decade ago.) And let’s not forget about the competition who do not have our standards.

    So it’s not whether *we* will marry *them* but whether *they* will marry *us*. Finding a compatible, righteous partner is like looking for a needle in a haystack even if you include those not of our faith. There is no vast untapped pool of available worthy men. Trust me. I know.

    Having said that, I am not going to limit myself to only dating members of the church. If I am searching for a needle in a haystack, then I still have to look through all the haystacks. Of course I would prefer to marry in the temple. But if and when I marry it will only be after praying about my decision and knowing that it’s right. If the Lord says it’s right then it will be the best course of action. At that point in time I will be grateful to have found a companion whether or not he is of our faith, because loneliness is everything it’s cracked up to be.

  286. manaen on October 2, 2005 at 1:44 am

    285
    “In short, I think the formalities of the covenants matter a lot less than most church members seem to think they do. If believing that one has made a special promise in a special way via a special authority helps one keep that promise, then great. Every little bit helps. But if someone manages to keep the gist of that same promise without having had that little boost of special faith to help them, well, I think they’re just as well off in God’s eyes.”

    As I read this, it seems that you’re saying the ordinances aren’t necessary. If I misunderstand your meaning, please disregard the following!

    Isn’t one of the main purposes of the Restoration to enable us again to receive the saving and exalting ordinances because they are saving and exalting? Is baptism really just a show of faith and not essential? (I still remember my initial surprise to learn that Baptists don’t believe in baptism as necessary).

    “They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace” (D&C 76:94) Does this not mean that those lacking the “formality” of the baptismal covenant won’t dwell in his presence?

  287. comet on October 2, 2005 at 3:04 am

    I wouldn’t expect an institution like the church to teach exceptions over the pulpit, so anything less than the strong temple marriage preference would be bad policy (for the church institution and many of its individual members). That’s the way things are “supposed” to work (and they do often enough that I don’t think the ideal is in any real danger). But we’re also a pragmatic people and I think beneath the normative veil people do what it takes to make things work (even if it appears unorthodox).

  288. Mark Butler on October 2, 2005 at 3:40 am

    Manean (not to pick on you specifically), your statement in 292 seems to assume that God will necessarily disqualify a person who eventually settles for an NTM as if the decision to enter into such a marriage merits such a disqualification, where a similarly situated never married single who passed up the same opportunity would not be so disqualified.

    Or in other words, that accepting an NTM at any point in life is a presumptive show of bad faith on the part of Sister Y that disqualifies her from exaltation. But yet we are taught that any lost blessings may be regained if her spouse converts and they are sealed together in the temple, etc. So may we conclude that either God is unjust and forgives people based on the actions of another or (more likely) that he doesn’t disqualify Sister Y for the mere fact of entering into an NTM in the first place?

    It seems to me that any honorable marriage, TM or otherwise, is an enormous positive good. A TM is a greater positive good. And life lasting singlehood, in and of itself, is not good. Why should the Lord attach material disfavor on entering into a relationship of enormous value _except_ to the degree that it prevents a more favored relationship.

    So in a drastic simplification, when the expected benefits of a prospective NTM (to the Lord, the Church, the spouses, their posterity) outweigh the opportunity cost of a lost TM, adjusted for the likelihood of such a prospect, how could such a decision be unjustified (in the absence of inspiration to the contrary)? The only way I can see is if there is a positive commandment not to marry non-members, period, such as was given to the ancient Israelites.

    It seems to me that too many want to reduce the subtlety of ethics to a series of hard and fast rules that apply in every situation in a sort of hyper-legalistic frenzy – and of course to assume that God runs his kingdom that way, like a judge bound by reams of minutia issued by an independent legislature instead of one free to make decisions in true equity.

    I don’t see any evidence that there is a hard and fast rule against members entering into NTMs as if they were some sort of evil in-and-of themselves, or that a worthy member entering into one loses anything except the blessings of a TM here and now.

    It seems merely a joint matter of rational expectation and trying to accomplish the most good possible in the world. If God were to operate the way that has been suggested here (i.e. rewarding lasting singlehood above NTMs) he would do net harm to the kingdom and everyone concerned, not to mention subject himself to the kind of ridicule usually reserved for particularly inept bureaucracies.

    What is the opportunity cost of lasting singlehood relative to an NTM? How about children and a posterity of whom some reasonable fraction are likely to remain in the church and achieve TMs themselves? What about the immeasureable value of the others? The happiness and joy of family life? Would God neglect to take these things into the balance?

    And finally, shouldn’t we consider the commandment to get married period. Based on purely legalistic reasoning, shouldn’t the members who eventually settle for an NTM be rewarded for their obedience to that commandment?

  289. Confused on October 2, 2005 at 5:13 am

    I’ve never read or heard anything from any prophet or other Church leader that indicates that those who divorce without remarrying (i.e. sealed, divorced, remained unmarried) would/could expect to be sealed to a spouse in the next life. Why do some members assume this is the case?

    Some say it’s because “Heavenly Father is a loving God.” Well, if they don’t keep their covenants, they don’t get the blessings.

    Expecting singles and gays to remain unpartnered for life in order to merit a spouse and children in the next life is one thing, but allowing people to make bad choices only to give them their choice of new spouse in the next seems frivolous and unfair.

    Can someone point me to any scripture or Church statement that says divorced members (who had been sealed) can be exalted? Every statement that talks about singles receiving all the blessings of eternal marriage in the next life mentions people who NEVER married (at all) while alive.

  290. Chad Too on October 2, 2005 at 5:35 am

    Wow. nearly 300 comments.

    There’s no way that I’m going to be able to digest all of them, so please forgive if I say something that’s already been said.

    When I was serving as a full-time missionary in Tokyo (gosh… almost 20 years ago. Sigh.) our area president spoke at Stake Conference. The topic was marriage.

    He had all the single adults stand up (we Elders were excluded, of course). He told those who had been a member of the church for less than a year that they could sit down. Next, he dismissed all those who were planning to start a full-time mission sometime in the next six months.

    To the men standing, he chastised them for not taking seriously enough the commandment to multiply and replenish. There were 3 single women for every single man in that stake at that time. He ordered them to get married (funny aside… the translator said it in a very polite way and the GA corrected him and made him use much sterner conjugation) and to do it soon. The men were then allowed to sit.

    Apropos the original topic: The GA then got very tender with the women still standing. He repeated the stat from earlier; 3-1 temple-worthy single women to temple-worthy single men. This Elder said that those numbers broke his heart. He would like nothing more than to tell each sister to wait for a brother who could take her to the temple, but reality would not (could not) support this. He then went on to tell these sisters that the Church knew that many would face the choice of staying single or marrying outside the Church. He then gave 5 points which, assuming the non-member man would agree to them, would mean these sisters would have “his blessing” in marrying outside the Church:

    1) The man must know that she was a member of the LDS Church
    2) The man must agree that she could continue to attend and serve in the Church.
    3) The man must agree that any children born of the marriage would be raised in the Church.
    4) Before the wedding, the man must be taught about the concept of eternal families and the importance of the covenants.
    5) Before the wedding, the man must be specifically taught that, as the father in the home, eventually he would be expected to gain a testimony, join the Church, and be sealed to his spouse and family.

    FWIW.

  291. manaen on October 2, 2005 at 5:53 am

    Some earlier comments asked for any indication from Church leaders that there is risk associated with NTM in this life — that there wouldn’t be opportunity in the next life to have a second chance. In addition to Elder Hanks (129) Here are some about that:

    MARION G. ROMNEY
    It is one thing to be on the mount and hear the excellent voice, etc., and another to hear the voice declare to you, You have a part and lot in that kingdom. (D. H. C. 5:493.) […]

    I want to read a text by which we may test ourselves today and always as to where we stand with reference to our faith and belief in God. It is the 25th verse of the 64th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants: Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today. […]

    I have in my heart a desire to emphasize the importance of doing the will of God now while today lasts. Perhaps more hangs upon what a man does during the short period of his mortal probation than upon his performance in any other period of equal duration since the spirit hosts took sides in the great war in heaven.

    Amulek, Alma’s missionary companion, speaks to this subject as follows:. . .now is the time and the day of your salvation; . .For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold, the day of this life is the day for men to per-form their labors. … therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. (Alma 34:31-33.)

    Nephi taught this same doctrine and went one step farther. He declared that we must not only labor in this life, but that we must also continue that labor until the end of life. He pointed out that the gate by which one enters upon the straight and narrow path is repentance and baptism by water and of fire and the Holy Ghost, and then continued:

    And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this straight and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; …ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. (2 Nephi 31:19-20.)
    And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the on of the living God, he cannot be saved. (Ibid., 31:16.)

    In the light of these teachings, it would seem to be most unwise to rely upon the doctrine of the so-called second chance and wait until after death to perform our good works. I am acquainted with the doctrine that those who have had no opportunity to hear and receive the gospel in this life will have that opportunity in the world to come, and I rejoice in it.[…]

    All this I accept with joy. However, it does not teach, and I have never found anything in the scriptures nor in the teachings of the prophets which encourages me to believe, that those who have the gospel taught to them here will be able to make up their loss if they choose to wait for the next life to obey it. I would not advise anyone to take that chance. As I understand the scriptures, taking such a hazard would be fatal.
    (Conference Report, April 1954, Afternoon Meeting 133-4.)

    HAROLD B. LEE
    I answered her, “You misunderstand our teachings. We don’t believe in the gospel of the second chance. We do not believe in the gospel of the first chance but we believe in a chance or full opportunity for everyone to hear and to accept the gospel.” […]

    I read to her from the words of the Prophet of the Book of Mormon where he declared:
    “For after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” (Alma 34:33.) […]

    That plan contemplated the preaching of the gospel to those who were in the spirit world, who had departed this life without having had ample opportunity of hearing the gospel. It contemplated the vicarious work to be carried on in behalf of those who had died without that knowledge in holy temples here in order that they might be judged as though they had heard the gospel here in the flesh. […]

    The gates of hell would have prevailed if the gospel had not been taught to the spirits in prison and to those who had not had ample opportunity to receive the gospel here in its fullness. It would have prevailed if there was not a vicarious work for the dead, and had it not been instituted to provide for those in the spirit world who desired to accept the gospel.
    (Conference Report, April 1953, Afternoon Meeting 25-27.)

    JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH
    The endowment and sealing work for the dead is for those who died without having had the opportunity to hear and receive the gospel; also, for those who were faithful members of the Church who lived in foreign lands or where, during their life time, they did not have the privilege to go to a temple, yet they were converted and were true members of the Church. The work for the dead is not intended for those who had every opportunity to receive it, who had it taught to them, and who then refused to receive it, or had not interest enough to attend to these ordinances when they were living.
    (Doctrines of Salvation 2: 184.)

    BRUCE R. McCONKIE
    Fearful and eternal consequences attend the rejection of the gospel message. Men are obligated to hearken to the voice of the Lord and also of his servants. If they do not do so, they are damned. Celestial salvation is available only for those who believe and obey the gospel law. (D. & C. 84:74.)

    SCLuke 10 12Luke 10 13Luke 10 14Luke 10 15Even the merciful doctrine of salvation for the dead contains no provision that men will have a second chance to gain salvation by repenting in the spirit world. (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 617-619.) Those who have opportunity to accept the gospel in this life must do so or forfeit the hope of salvation. (Alma 34:31-36.) Even if such persons do repent in the spirit world, the highest reward they can ever attain is the terrestrial kingdom. (D. & C. 76:71-74.)
    (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1: 435.)

    There is a time appointed for the performance of every righteous work. Time lost can never be recaptured; it is gone forever. Perhaps the most awesome illustration of this principle is the doctrine which denies men a second chance to gain celestial salvation. Of those who have opportunity to believe and obey the gospel in this life and who neglect or refuse to do so, Amulek said: “After this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.” (Alma 34:33.)
    (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1: 480.)

    The doctrine of salvation for the dead, great and glorious as it is, does not mean that those who reject the truth, or who disobey their gospel covenants in this life, shall have a second chance to gain salvation by accepting and living the law in the spirit world. Salvation for the dead is for those who die without a knowledge of the gospel and who would have received it, with all their hearts, had it been presented to them in this mortal life.
    (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2: 423.)

    If you teach a doctrine that there is a second chance for salvation, you may lose your soul. You will, if you believe that doctrine to the point that you do not live right and if you go on the assumption that someday you will have the opportunity for salvation even though you did not keep the commandments here.
    (Sermons and Writings of Bruce R. McConkie 338.)

  292. GeorgeD on October 2, 2005 at 8:48 am

    Amen Manaen

  293. B on October 2, 2005 at 9:39 am

    “That grave risk wasn’t ignored: it was mentioned in my very first comment and several times thereafter.”

    I didn’t mean it hadn’t been mentioned in this thread. I meant it is greatly underemphasized in the teachings to the single members of the church and in the LDS culture. A 50yo member dating a 50yo nonmember of the type I described gets a lot of raised eyebrows and concerned warnings about risks, whereas a 20 yo member dating a 20yo member of the type I described gets cheerful congratulations and unqualified encouragement toward marriage. When actually I think the “risks” each is encountering are of about the same gravity.

    “The problem, B, is that most 50yos don’t marry 20yos and vice versa. So your scenario is unfair in comparing them as if one individual were deciding between the two. Rather, a 20yo must decide between a templeworhty 20yo and a not-templeworthy 20yo, while a 50yo must decide between a templeworthy 50yo and a not-templeworthy 50yo.”

    The choice, as you phrased it, is “deliberately deciding (no mention of personal inspiration) to date nonmembers instead of members to increase the likelihood of *any* marriage occuring instead of remaining single.” (First of all, why should anyone have to explicitly mention personal inspiration–aren’t we politely assuming that deliberate decisions relating to marriage are results of personal inspiration?) What I’m saying is that if one is long past 20, with all those 20yo prospects no longer appropriate choices, and one deliberately decides to seek out delightful, worthy nonmembers one’s own age, one’s odds of a marriage that lasts through the eternities may not in fact be any worse than they were at 20 when one was deliberately dating members.

    I’ll grant you that the formality of “making” covenants is necessary under LDS doctrine, but necessary when? The very first moment that a temple is built in your country and you read about it in the paper? If you die a week later, after not having inquired about the possibility of joining that church, have you lost your opportunity to “make” covenants? What about if the missionaries knock on your door, and you genuinely think they are from a scary foreign “sect” and you don’t even open the door? Is that all the opportunity you get? What about if you marry a member of the church that built that temple, and you spend decades loving everything about that person, especially their moral character and closeness to God, but you just can’t believe that Jesus would exclude your aged mother from her son’s wedding ceremony–that genuinely seems unChristlike to you? Have you lost your opportunity? Compare those “opportunities” to the opportunities of JinA’s children who will have a childhood chock-full of warm, fuzzy LDS-related experiences, and neverending (yet never annoying) reminders from mom and dad about the supernal importance of covenants. Why shouldn’t everyone else get just as much “opportunity” to make covenants as those lucky kids get?

    What I’m trying to emphasize is that it is not unwise to seek out someone who will “keep” covenants in daily life without having “made” them first, because God will be generous (much more generous than some members seem to think, IMO) in allowing them a fair opportunity to later understand the importance of “making” those covenants in the formalistic sense.

    Matthew 21

    28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.

    29 He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.

    30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

    31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father?

    That is why I think the spoken word of the covenant–the “I go, sir” before going–is not necessary. The first son actually went, but without ever having said “dad, I promise to go now” and Jesus said the first will receive the reward. If God does value formalism as much as some think he does, then that is what baptism and sealings for the dead are for. Would the church allow part-member couples to be sealed posthumously if it were not possible for those sealings to be valid?

  294. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 1:41 pm

    Gabrielle wrote, “I’m just not clear that that the church policy of temple-marriage-as-goal is under attack or in need of defense ”

    I’ve got 300 comments suggesting otherwise . . .

    (And I hope you feel better. Morning sickness is the WORST.)

    Mark Butler wrote, “Or in other words, that accepting an NTM at any point in life is a presumptive show of bad faith on the part of Sister Y that disqualifies her from exaltation.”

    Just to clarify, this is NOT my position. I find it impossible to think that God could inspire a person to make a certain decision (whether NTM or anything else) and then withhold blessings from that person for acting on that inspiration. If we think that God will punish our obedience, all is lost.

    Mark also writes, “It seems to me that too many want to reduce the subtlety of ethics to a series of hard and fast rules that apply in every situation in a sort of hyper-legalistic frenzy ”

    To clarify, this is NOT my position. I have held from the very first comment and at least a 1/2 dozen times since that there are legitimate exceptions to the rule (these come from personal revelation). Nonetheless it is still a rule.

    Chad Too wrote, “To the men standing, he chastised them for not taking seriously enough the commandment to multiply and replenish. ”

    Woah. That’s harsh!

    And those five conditions pretty much guarentee that no single woman would marry a nonmember. They require him (5) to promise to join the Church in the future. (And pretty much by definition, even if anyone who would promise to join the church in the future but refuse to do so now, they are guilty of “procrastinating the day of their repentence.”)

    B–Thanks for clarifying about the grave risks. Now that I understand you, I agree with you. It does scare me to see some of these shiny young couples pledging to each other for eternity. As for the rest of your post, of course someone who makes covenants and then breaks them is worse off than someone who never entered into them. I don’t think many people would debate that. But that isn’t the point of this thread (whether to marry a stinky member or a great nonmember). The point is whether (in general) one should remain single or should marry a nonmember.

  295. Mark Butler on October 2, 2005 at 2:48 pm

    Julie, you introduced the topic here by asking “Specifically, is a non temple marriage better than no marriage?” It is disingenuous to suggest that those replying in the affirmative do not believe that temple marriage is the ideal or are prima facie logically inconsistent for doing so. In earthquake country, surely a house meeting modern structural codes is the ideal, but should we conclude then that it would be preferable for persons without the means for such for such to sleep on the streets instead? Or that those who would keep them housed in such circumstances do not believe they would be better served by a stronger house?

  296. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 2:55 pm

    Mark Butler–”It is disingenuous to suggest that those replying in the affirmative do not believe that temple marriage is the ideal or are prima facie logically inconsistent for doing so”

    I never suggested this. Can you point me to the comment where you got this idea? I think it has been clear all around to all posters that temple marriage is the ideal. The entire conversation is about which of the two less-than-ideal options (singleness or NTM) is preferable.

    Clearly, those who cannot afford earthquake-safe dwellings should be stoned.

    (Oh, wait, that was the caricature of me that many people [not you] are responding to on this thread. What follows is the real me:)

    Once again, your earthquake scenario involves two less-than-ideal scenarios and the choice of which is preferable. To my knowledge, prophets haven’t weighed in on what to do if you cannot afford to retrofit your house. But they have spoken clearly about NTM.

  297. Confused on October 2, 2005 at 2:59 pm

    I just wish the Church leaders would clear this kind of thing up (e.g. at Conference) and make sme definitive declarations and statements instead of prattling on about sweet rolls and recycling talks from years ago.

  298. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    Confused, if no one is convinced by the statement that have been made about NTM in the past, why would they listen to new ones?

    And I *loved* the sweet rolls incident! That is precisely the kind of physical appetite that many Saints (including me!) struggle with and I think that an exploration of its effects on our spirituality is very appropriate.

  299. Carolyn on October 2, 2005 at 3:07 pm

    I still maintain that the option i.e. of marrying a non-member, is not a real option in practical terms. Generally speaking, non-members are just not interested in pursuing serious long term relationships with active members of the church. One or two dates perhaps, but nothing beyond that. It wasn’t always like this, but unfortunately the world and times have changed.

    I only know of one recent LDS/non-LDS marriage. And the couple in question had known each other and been friends for fourteen years.

    Is it me or do you all live in places where members are marrying non-members left and right? Because I’m just not seeing that. This whole discussion seems rather quaint and old-fashioned and caught in a time warp.

  300. Confused on October 2, 2005 at 3:09 pm

    I think they’d listen to new, current pronouncements because it’s too easy to play the “that was in past”, “that’s how SWK thought about it, but since no one has spoken about it lately, that’s proof that it’s an old idea” cards.

    And people are hungering :) for DOCTRINE and not cute stories about desserts (donuts, sweet rolls, etc.) so I believe people would actually be happy to hear contemporary statements about the fate of singles, divorcees, gays, etc. and what their places are now and in the hereafter. With more and more people in these categories as the Church gets larger, it could only help instead of making the concepts more vague and confusing.

  301. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Carolyn–

    Sorry I didn’t respond to this the first time you wrote it; I think it is an important observation that should help us keep the actual debate in perspective. I do, however, know of a few–but very few–NTM marriages (here in Austin).

  302. Confused on October 2, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    Carolyn, I live in an area where there are a LOT of member/non-member marriages, both for first-time and second/third/fourth marriages. Otherwise, people just wouldn’t get married at all.

    From what I’ve seen with my friends, they’re more willing to marry well-educated, interesting older single men outside of the Church who have a lot of life experience than the kind of men who remain single and are often socially backward and inept in the Church. Not to disparage single LDS men, but given the focus on celibacy, etc., some LDS men who don’t marry and are up there in years are kind of strange.

  303. Carolyn on October 2, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    Confused,

    I agree with you on the strangeness of older LDS single men. I too have met my share of them. They are everywhere.

  304. B on October 2, 2005 at 3:52 pm

    “As for the rest of your post, of course someone who makes covenants and then breaks them is worse off than someone who never entered into them. I don’t think many people would debate that. But that isn’t the point of this thread (whether to marry a stinky member or a great nonmember).”

    That wasn’t what I was saying. I was not comparing stinky members to great nonmembers. I was focusing only on the results for the first son in the scripture passage.

    I was saying that it makes no difference eternally which of the following paths a person takes:

    1. formally enter into covenants during life, then keep them throughout life.
    2. keep covenants throughout life, then formally enter into them either later in life or after death.

    I see a preference in the “general rule” for selecting a marriage partner who is on path #1. If the marriage (potentially) takes place at the comma in each path above, then I don’t think that preference is justified, because the risk of a person not going through with the second half of either of those paths is about the same. Also, the reward if the person does go through with the second half of either of those paths is the same.

    The only difference is that perhaps there should be an age differential. If marrying young, the preference is #1 because one can quickly and easily tell whether the first part of the path has been taken (were the proper words said in the temple?), and then one has faith that the rest of the path will follow. If marrying older, then path #2 becomes an equally valid option. One has the maturity and insight to discern whether the potential spouse has taken the first part of path #2; also the longer track record of the older potential spouse helps in making that determination. And then one has faith that the rest of the path will follow.

  305. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 3:55 pm

    The point at which I disagree with you is this: a nonmember cannot be said to be “keeping covenants throughout life.” At least, not all of them. How many nonmembers do you know who pay tithing? etc. So I conclude that the choice you present is a false one, but I concede that if it were true, your reading about which partner to prefer would be spot on.

  306. Mark Butler on October 2, 2005 at 4:16 pm

    Manaen, it is not obvious that the statements regarding the lack of “second chances” apply in this case. Elder Oaks made a much more germane statement when he declared that “The Lord has promised that in the eternities no blessing will be denied his sons and daughters who keep the commandments, are true to their covenants, and desire what is right.” (Ensign, Nov 1993)

    It seems to me that Elder Oaks was likely motivated to make this statement to rectify unjustified interpretations of the “no second chance” doctrine.

    So if Elder Oaks is correct, for a member entering an NTM to lose their chance for exaltation requires that (at a minimum) in so doing they either break a commandment, their covenants, or are acting in bad faith. Bad faith is unlikely. So which commandment or covenant is a member without a reasonable prospect of a TM breaking on entering an NTM?

    Wouldn’t the Church’s solemnization of such marriages constitute aiding and abetting a sin if that were the case? Doesn’t Church solemnization constitute an a explicit endorsement of the proposition that there is positive value in entering into such a relationship in many circumstances, even if it is not the ideal? If NTM were bad or improper in the preponderance of cases (as opposed to simply being a lesser good than TM), the Church should get out of the NTM business altogether, lest we subsidize iniquity on balance. Surely doing so would better reflect the condemnation attached to such unions, right?

    I prefer to believe that the Lord issues positive commandments to encourage his children to do good, not to motivate them to do nothing. Doesn’t a single rejecting an NTM in a TM desert bear some similarity to the servant who buried his talent for fear of losing it?

  307. B on October 2, 2005 at 4:18 pm

    Nor can any member be said to be “keeping covenants throughout life.” At least, not all of them. How many members do you know who avoid all lightmindedness? etc.

    I understand the gist of the covenants to be “live a Christlike life to the best of your ability,” which is something we can all do, and something we all fall short at.

  308. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 4:27 pm

    B–

    I think we’ll need to agree to disagree here as to what constitutes the core essence of covenant keeping; I don’t see any potential for either of us to convince the other.

  309. Mark Butler on October 2, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    Julie,

    Gabrielle wrote, “I’m just not clear that that the church policy of temple-marriage-as-goal is under attack or in need of defense ”

    Then you said “I’ve got 300 comments suggesting otherwise . . .”, as if the large majority here were attacking the idea that TM is much superior to NTM. That is not on point at all. The issue is whether NTM is superior to _nothing_.

    The superiority of NTM to _nothing_ seems so obvious that it boggles my imagination that anyone could believe otherwise. The only practical question is how to determine when that superiority becomes effective relative to the declining prospect of an admitted greater superiority.

  310. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 4:34 pm

    Mark Butler–

    You and I are not reading “goal” the same way. I think (?) you are reading it as synonymous with “the ideal.” And you are right that I haven’t heard anyone on this thread dispute that notion. I’m reading “goal” as meaning that because this is your goal, you wouldn’t do anything that could reduce the chance of you achieving that goal (which NTM does).

    “The superiority of NTM to _nothing_ seems so obvious that it boggles my imagination that anyone could believe otherwise.”

    The prophets apparently believe otherwise; see the many quotations to that effect on this thread.

  311. Mark Butler on October 2, 2005 at 5:23 pm

    Julie, the October 1942 statement takes the strong position you espouse, i.e. that “His people should only marry in His temple in accordance with such ordinances.” That paragraph was not quoted by Elder Packer in his 1993 address.

    My response is that the actual practice of the Church in solemnizing NTMs is contrary to such a position, and that practices speak louder than words, and that therefore the Church implicitly endorses the idea that an NTM marriage is superior to never marrying in general. Otherwise solemnizing NTMs would be the moral equivalent of christening ocean liners.

  312. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 5:34 pm

    Mark, there’s been a lot of authoritative quotations on this thread besides the one that you mention.

    Your practice verses policy issue is interesting (something new under the sun after 300+ comments! amazing!). But I cannot agree with you.

    (1) There are (as I’ve said from the beginning, sigh) situations where individuals are inspired to enter NTM. Hence it makes perfect sense for the Church to solemnize those, even though they are exceptions to the rule. By the same token, let’s say there was an 18-year-old male who felt inspired to marry in the temple immediately instead of serving a mission (I admit that this scenario is extremely farfetched [and he's gonna have a heck of a time convincing his bishop of his inspiration!], while personal inspiration for NTM is not). The fact that the church solemnizes his temple marriage in no way negates the rule that YM should serve missions before getting married.

    (2) Further, I think your look-at-actions-not-words is a slippery slope. Think of an EQ Pres. exhorting the brethren to HT at every turn and yet not having 100% HT himself.

  313. Mark Butler on October 2, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Julie, the Church does not apply any sort of “inspiration” test to the solemnization of NTMs. Have you ever heard of a bishop turning such a request down? If getting married outside of the temple was usually a step down from not ever getting married, bishops would have to apply considerable scrutiny to see which requests justify the implicit sanction given by solemnizing such marriages. That is certainly possible on other grounds than personal inspiration, but is unheard of.

    There is a major difference between the sanction given by official practice and that implied by deviations from that practice. If member NTM is a negative deviation on balance, then NTM solemnization should either be forbidden or only permitted under considerable scrutiny, which does not occur, therefore the Church on balance implicitly endorses the proposition that in general an NTM is preferable to no marriage at all.

  314. B on October 2, 2005 at 6:13 pm

    I’m happy for you and I to agree to disagree. My hope would be to extend that courtesy also to all adults in the church, as they consider what they believe the essence of covenant-keeping and the value of marriage to be. I would not want to set up one risky path as “ideal” and an approximately equally risky path as “not ideal” because that would underemphasize the risks to some of them and overemphasize the risks to others. It would also put a heavier burden on some of them to justify their righteous choice as an exception to a rule, causing them to stick out as non-conformists in a conformist culture. I read and understood you when you said that you don’t personally go up to anyone and say anything to make them feel bad about their marriage choices, but surely the culture as a whole does this to part-member couples, largely because of the whole “ideal-not ideal” “rule-exception” thing. And surely that contributes to worsen the calculus of risks for NTMs thus making the prophecy about grave risks, to a certain extent, self-fulfilling.

    The church did such a wonderful job with the “Isn’t It About Time?” series of commercials that glorified the day-to-day aspects of family life. Those seemed to take for granted that marriage and children are a great blessing, in the here and now, if only people took time to enjoy them. They didn’t say “if and only if…covenants!” or “but you’re taking a grave risk unless…covenants!” Why is that?

  315. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 6:14 pm

    Mark–

    Your statement assumes that a bishop should be a scrutinizer of the inspiration of a decision to NTM, and I see no reason to assume that this is the case.

  316. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 6:16 pm

    finishing my thought: much as a bishop shouldn’t/doesn’t interrogate someone getting married in the temple on their choice of spouse, there’s no reason to assume that the bishop would take on that role with a NTM.

  317. Julie in Austin on October 2, 2005 at 6:22 pm

    B

    As for your first paragraph, since you recognize that I’m not one of the tsk-tskers in the back row, you should also recognize that the entire paragraph doesn’t apply to me. An analogy might be: just because some people harshly judge a pregnant YW (forgetting that she could be a rape victim, etc.), doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to speak out about the evils of premarital sex. We can state the general rule without judging individuals who “appear” to be in violation of it.

    As for the second paragraph, the ‘Bout Time ads are directed to Gentiles, hence the lack of mention of many really important topics such as covenants, Jesus Christ, priesthood, etc. etc. When the Brethren talk to members about family, it is always in the context of temple covenants. Many examples of that in GC today.

    I’ll be signing off this post for awhile; I’ll be back, but not in the next several hours.

  318. manaen on October 2, 2005 at 6:51 pm

    306
    Mark, “So if Elder Oaks is correct, for a member entering an NTM to lose their chance for exaltation requires that (at a minimum) in so doing they either break a commandment, their covenants, or are acting in bad faith. Bad faith is unlikely. So which commandment or covenant is a member without a reasonable prospect of a TM breaking on entering an NTM?”

    This will be short. Maybe more later. Maybe not.

    Starting at the end, I’ve been talkin about instances in which there is *not* a reasonable prospect of a sealing. My questions have been about where is the line between reasonable and unreasonable. My answers have been about the risks for accepting NTM when there is a reasonable prospect.

    Given that, I would have chosen bad faith from among the selections you offered. IMO, someone baptized — covenanting to follow God’s plan — who then steps off the path into a NTM is the person who is warned in the quotes I posted in what was #300 and now is #291. So, I do not see a contradiction between the Oaks’ quote you posted and the quotes that I posted in #291.

    I’ll repeat one that calls out the difference between having/not having a reasonable prospect:

    JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH
    The endowment and sealing work for the dead is for those who died without having had the opportunity to hear and receive the gospel; also, for those who were faithful members of the Church who lived in foreign lands or where, during their life time, they did not have the privilege to go to a temple, yet they were converted and were true members of the Church. The work for the dead is not intended for those who had every opportunity to receive it, who had it taught to them, and who then refused to receive it, or had not interest enough to attend to these ordinances when they were living.
    (Doctrines of Salvation 2: 184.)

    “Wouldn’t the Church’s solemnization of such marriages constitute aiding and abetting a sin if that were the case? Doesn’t Church solemnization constitute an a explicit endorsement of the proposition that there is positive value in entering into such a relationship in many circumstances, even if it is not the ideal? If NTM were bad or improper in the preponderance of cases (as opposed to simply being a lesser good than TM), the Church should get out of the NTM business altogether, lest we subsidize iniquity on balance.”

    Please review my #246 (was #255), in which I discuss that there is a difference between sin and settling for the lesser good that you parenthetically noted. I agree that there is positive value in either a sealing or NTM. The warnings I shared are that a NTM may preclude you from the greater good of a sealing, if you have “reasonable prospect” of a sealing. But it’s not a sin — unless lesser diligence in following God’s way is a sin of omission, which is beyond my ken.

    “Doesn’t a single rejecting an NTM in a TM desert bear some similarity to the servant who buried his talent for fear of losing it?”

    Likely so, given the desert. Given reasonable prospect for a sealing, it seems more like someone passing on a baptism in another Church to be closer to who would be the non-member spouse when true baptism could be had.

  319. Mark Butler on October 2, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    Julie, I am not advocating such scrutiny. I am arguing that the fact that NTM solemnization request denial on such grounds is generally unheard of implies that Church endorses member NTMs as a relationship superior to never marrying as a general, rather than a specific proposition (as you suggest).

  320. Mark Butler on October 2, 2005 at 7:25 pm

    Manean, no argument from me on anything in 318.

  321. B on October 2, 2005 at 8:30 pm

    “just because some people harshly judge a pregnant YW (forgetting that she could be a rape victim, etc.), doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to speak out about the evils of premarital sex. We can state the general rule without judging individuals who “appear” to be in violation of it.”

    There are some rules that shouldn’t even be stated because they are too crudely written to fit the variety of situations out there; they unfairly judge to a greater extent than they provide a useful guide.

    I think the “remain single rather than marry a non-member” rule would be more analogous to the “allow yourself to be killed rather than allow yourself to be raped” rule than to the “no premarital sex” rule. Those first two rules presume to tell someone in a difficult situation that you’ve never been in and that they never asked to be in, how to calculate the risks. Those rules can lead to ingratitude for the very real blessings that result from the denigrated choice; they downplay the great blessing it is just to survive and the personal blessings inherent in a good, decent marriage. They put good people on the defensive, even causing some of them to doubt that it really was the Spirit that told them to make that choice. In short, those rules do more harm than good.

    Why should Gentiles not be told about really important topics such as covenants, Jesus Christ, priesthood, etc.? Don’t church members have a duty to teach the world about those things? Perhaps it’s because marriage and families really do have great value even outside of those teachings. (Perhaps also because the church realizes how offensive, and therefore counter-productive, it would be to even bring up, much less emphasize, the “if and only if…covenants!” and “grave risks unless…covenants!” aspects of church teachings on marriage.)

  322. Eric Russell on October 2, 2005 at 10:50 pm

    Interesting discussion. I have a question for what appears to be the majority opinion. Assuming that, faced with the certain prospect of lifelong singlehood, one is justified in a NTM, and assuming that, faced with the reasonable possibility of finding a healthy, happy marriage in the church, one is not justified in a NTM, where is the line?

    There’s been a lot of talk in terms of absolutes, examples where people certainly would never had married if it had not been for a NTM. But in reality, it’s rarely that simple. How can one ever say with objectivity that there’s no chance of marring in the church? In any case, how certain must one be to justify a NTM? I think most would agree that if you were only 30% certain that you could never find a marriable partner in the church, it would not be justified, but that it likely would be with a 90% certainty. Where’s the line? Or, in other words, how desperate do you have to be before a NTM becomes an acceptable option?

  323. manaen on October 3, 2005 at 12:01 am

    322.
    Eric, your questions neatly summarizes what I see as the underlying point of this discussion: where’s the line between justified NTM and better-to-wait?

    Julie, I, and many people on various sides of this discussion have said that’s for personal reveation. Which brings us back to what the Church has said, as shown in Elder Hanks’ Ensign 3/1989 interview cited in #129:

    Ensign: Some who have not had the opportunity, after many years, to marry a faithful Latter-day Saint wonder whether it would be better to forgo marriage entirely or to marry a good, moral non–Latter-day Saint in order to enjoy the blessings of family life here on earth.

    Elder Hanks: That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis, and essentially it is not a question that one person can answer for another. It must be handled in counsel with our Heavenly Father, and the answer must be sought through the Spirit. There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.

  324. manaen on October 3, 2005 at 12:05 am

    320
    Mark, that’s good news! I’m glad we got there.

  325. LisaB on October 3, 2005 at 10:35 am

    I’ve been loathe to comment here given the backlash Julie’s received, but I just have to say that I would STRONGLY caution single LDS friends and family members to do everything they possibly can to marry in the temple–particularly those who have been endowed. This would include the warning I received in my youth to not even date non-LDS individuals (which I disregarded for a short time–6 months or so–which brought pain I could have avoided when I broke up with him for no reason other than realizing the relationship really couldn’t “go anywhere” since he wasn’t LDS and had no interest in even taking the discussions) so they don’t even have to deal with the soul-wrenching situation of having to reject someone they love because of difference in belief, or the difficulties and potentially eternal consequences of marrying outside of the covenant. Not that that can’t happen within the church as well (differences of belief/ non-temple worthiness…). I’ve gone that route, too, more than once (broken off relationships with LDS boyfriends–even one fiance’–who were off-course). It’s just as painful, but doesn’t make the first options a better idea or choice–even given the prospect of loneliness.

    To those who are in mixed marriages for any reason, I feel great empathy, and believe in Paul’s words that a believing spouse can help an unbelieving one, of course recognizing that we are not in a position to judge other people’s choices (thank God!).

  326. Jennifer H. on October 3, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    Since our characters remain with us after this life, and since being single tends to stunt emotional and psychological growth, it would seem that marriage is better than non-marriage–temple or otherwise. I would say that any single person who is getting older and more set in their ways should definitely consider marriage to even them out! (Spoken as one who married a non-member at 36).

  327. Julie in Austin on October 3, 2005 at 7:38 pm

    Re Mark Butler #319:

    I think we’ve reached the Land of Agree to Disagree: You think the fact that NTM are solemnized constitute their endoresement; I think the fact that they are solemnized constitute (1) an acknowledgement that they can be legitimate for a select number of people inspired to enter them and (2) an acknowledgment that bishops are not the arbiters of whether people are legitimately inspired to enter them. Neither of us is budging. So there you have it.

    B– (#321)

    You approach this by using logic to get me to abandon a position that I hold. I approach this as a position that I hold because the prophets have spoken on it. So logic won’t work: I don’t hold that singleness is preferable to NTM because I have weighed reams of evidence; I hold it because the prophets have said that it is such. In other words, if you want me to change my position, show me where the prophets have changed theirs. And I will follow suit.

    Eric Russell (#322)–

    Very good questions. I await the opinions of “the majority.” (At one point above, I asked what the “magic age” was but no one answered me. We have the stunning (yet clearly exceptional) example of the new Sister Oaks: over 50 when they married.)

    LisaB– Thank you for your comments.

    Jennifer H wrote, “being single tends to stunt emotional and psychological growth”

    Ouch! I may be biased in that I haven’t been single for awhile (nor was I single for a decent chunk of adult life), but I know many, many older singles who are not stunting emotionally and psychologically. One thing to consider is that the causality may run the other way: it isn’t that singleness stunts growth; it is that those with stunted growth stay single (speaking STRICTLY in generalities here! I know TONS of exceptions!). This may create the incorrect perception that singleness is the cause when really it is the consequence.

  328. B on October 3, 2005 at 8:03 pm

    “logic won’t work: I don’t hold that singleness is preferable to NTM because I have weighed reams of evidence; I hold it because the prophets have said that it is such.”

    That sounded like you just admitted that your position is illogical, but that you choose to let faith in the prophets trump reason and experience. Is that what the church teaches now–don’t use logic or weigh evidence, just do what the prophets say? Anyway, I’m sure that wasn’t what you meant; it probably just came across wrong. If you did mean it, though, then I surely do not want to argue about that with you. I wouldn’t know how to begin to do so if logic is off limits.

    Also, who says I want you to change your position? It’s all the same to me if we agree to disagree on the whole topic. My purpose was just to get you to see the case for the other side, and hopefully to increase your already existing respect for it as a valid, reasonable, sincere position; not for you to adopt it as your own.

  329. Sunbeam on October 3, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    Obviously, I have not had the time to read all of this, but let me ask a question anyway. I am interested in how the Temple Marriage Only people would advise:

    While living in an area of the world in which the Church does not exist (and there are many), an endowed member meets someone and dates them. This person has had no access to the church and will have no access to missionaries, church meetings, or baptism as long as they live where they do, yet the endowed member feels they ought to marry. What to do?

  330. manaen on October 3, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    Sunbeam,

    A good question. I’ll offer a few quotes that have appeared above:

    ——-
    JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH
    The endowment and sealing work for the dead is for those who died without having had the opportunity to hear and receive the gospel; also, for those who were faithful members of the Church who lived in foreign lands or where, during their life time, they did not have the privilege to go to a temple, yet they were converted and were true members of the Church. The work for the dead is not intended for those who had every opportunity to receive it, who had it taught to them, and who then refused to receive it, or had not interest enough to attend to these ordinances when they were living. (Doctrines of Salvation 2: 184.) (from #291, other quotes available there)

    —–
    The Ensign published an interview with Elder Marion D. Hanks regarding LDS singles in the March 1989 issue. Here is a passage from that interview:

    Ensign: Some who have not had the opportunity, after many years, to marry a faithful Latter-day Saint wonder whether it would be better to forgo marriage entirely or to marry a good, moral non–Latter-day Saint in order to enjoy the blessings of family life here on earth.

    Elder Hanks: That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis, and essentially it is not a question that one person can answer for another. It must be handled in counsel with our Heavenly Father, and the answer must be sought through the Spirit. There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.

    But there can be missionary potential in the situation, too. Many men and women who have been converted through a faithful spouse bear testimony of their deep gratitude for a husband or wife, in-laws, and other loved ones who cared enough to share the gospel with them.

    Some may never have an opportunity to marry in this life. However, the Lord’s prophets have taught us that all that is beautiful and lovely about eternal partnership and family life will be available sometime, and with joy we cannot imagine here, to those individuals who endure to the end in Christlike living. (from #129)
    ———

    “If you are single and haven’t identified a solid prospect for celestial marriage, live for it. Pray for it. Expect it in the timetable of the Lord. Do not compromise your standards in any way that would rule out that blessing on this or the other side of the veil. The Lord knows the intent of your heart. His prophets have stated that you will have that blessing as you consistently live to qualify for it. We do not know whether it will be on this or the other side of the veil. But live for it. Pray for it.”
    –Richard G. Scott, “Receive the Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 1999, 25 (from #158)

    ————

    The essence of most of this thread has been trying to resolve at what point a reasonable prospect for temple marriage does not exist. Commenters on all sides of that issue generally agreed that it’s a matter of personal inspiration that any of us would not venture to second guess.

  331. Julie in Austin on October 3, 2005 at 8:49 pm

    B–

    I knew I’d open a whole ‘nother can of worms with the obedience-versus-logic issue. Suffice it to say that, since the prophets have spoken directly to this issue, *and* I can see the reasoning behind their position (i.e., importance of covenants, increased likelyhood that children will be raised to be faithful adults, increased likelyhood of creating an eternal family, etc.), that I’m not particularly interested in carefully weighing logic contrary to their logic — and their authoritative pronouncements.

    B, since everyone so far as admitted that we are looking at two less-than-ideal options (NTM and singleness), it is clear that there are *some* advantages to NTM. I’d never deny that. But what is also clear is that the prophets don’t feel (in general! always exceptions!) that the advantages of NTM outweigh its disadvantages. Neither do I, and thus ends the issue (for me, at least).

    Sunbeam–You write that the member “feels they ought.” If by this you meant “has been inspired,” then, obviously, the NTM marriage should proceed. If by that phrase you meant “really wants to,” then the member should pray until they have clarity (which, as an endowed member, they are entitled to) as to whether their “really wants to” matches the Lord’s will–or not–and then act according to God’s will. To do anything else would be to violate their temple covenants.

  332. LisaB on October 3, 2005 at 8:53 pm

    Sunbeam–see #325. I believe the counsel has been and still is that members should not date non-members (or even not-temple-worthy members). So your hypothetical wouldn’t happen if the individual living anywhere in the world has followed the prophets. I know, sounds harsh. But I still have a hard time believing someone would be inspired to date someone contrary to the counsel of our leaders. I have, however, heard stories of individuals who introduce the gospel to others who join the church and then they date and marry. Even in this instance I have a hard time imagining that this can result in a marriage of equals. Contrary to what others on this thread have stated or implied, I do think the church teaches celibacy, and because of this, I think they should do a better job addressing celibacy directly.

  333. Julie in Austin on October 3, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    I promise, LisaB, I’m not trying to pick a fight (*AS IF* I would with one of the few to take my side in this melee!) but is the counsel “don’t date nonmembers” or is the counsel “don’t date those that won’t uphold your standards”? I realize, per Carolyn above, this might be a distinction without a difference, but it might not be in a small number of cases.

    (This is a sincere question. I’ve been out of the dating game a long time, I don’t work with the youth, and I honestly don’t know the answer to this question.)

  334. B on October 3, 2005 at 9:02 pm

    I wish you had made it clearer up front that you didn’t want to weigh any logic contrary to your existing position. I thought that phrasing the post as a question and inviting comments implied otherwise. I really had no idea that your mind was not only closed to changing your position, but even to “carefully weighing” the reasons behind anyone else’s position. I’ve wasted your time and mine. I’m very sorry.

  335. Julie in Austin on October 3, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    B–

    My mind is open to the following:

    being convinced that I misunderstand the Brethren’s position
    being convinced that I am misapplying the Brethren’s statements
    etc.

    Both logic and carefully weighing would come into play here.

    But I think it has been clear from the beginning of this I grant heavy weight to authoritative statements. It should be clear, then, that if Elder X says something–backed by his authority and logic–and then B says something–backed by his logic–well, which position did you think I would take?

  336. C Jones on October 3, 2005 at 9:59 pm

    Re:334
    Logic does have a place in religious discussion (and makes for more entertaining arguments), but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of faith defined as being governed by logic. Yet faith is the first principle of the gospel. Faith in prophetic statements can be lifted to the level of knowledge by putting their advice into practice and observing the results in one’s life. For any gospel principle I wonder about, my understanding of the procedure gleaned from the words of the prophets and the scriptures would be- first have faith, then practice obedience, then comes a witness of truth through the Spirit. Logic may or may not ever play a part in the process. But can’t I still arrive at truth?

  337. manaen on October 3, 2005 at 10:19 pm

    Isn’t the pattern: first study it out in your own mind, then ask the Lord for inspiration? Pondering prepares us for what the Spirit then reveals. Pondering cannot give us what the Spirit then would reveal.

  338. annegb on October 3, 2005 at 11:06 pm

    Sorry, I have vertigo, sick as a dog, so I missed a lot, but somebody mentioned children. I fervently believe that if our children are sealed to us and they stray, our faithfulness will save them. They may pay a price, but ultimately, it will work out. I like the hopefulness of that.

  339. manaen on October 4, 2005 at 2:23 am

    338
    annegb, “I fervently believe that if our children are sealed to us and they stray, our faithfulness will save them. They may pay a price, but ultimately, it will work out. I like the hopefulness of that.”

    My ex-wife had her and our children’s names removed from the Church rolls before she died. I also fervently believe this doctrine. It *is* my hope.

    Elder Hales gave me this hope last year when he quoted Orson F. Whitney, “The Prophet Joseph Smith declared—and he never taught more comforting doctrine—that the eternal sealings of faithful parents and the divine promises made to them for valiant service in the Cause of Truth, would save not only themselves, but likewise their posterity. Though some of the sheep may wander, the eye of the Shepherd is upon them, and sooner or later they will feel the tentacles of Divine Providence reaching out after them and drawing them back to the fold. Either in this life or the life to come, they will return. They will have to pay their debt to justice; they will suffer for their sins; and may tread a thorny path; but if it leads them at last, like the penitent Prodigal, to a loving and forgiving father’s heart and home, the painful experience will not have been in vain. Pray for your careless and disobedient children; hold on to them with your faith. Hope on, trust on, till you see the salvation of God.(“With All the Feeling of a Tender Parent: A Message of Hope to Families” Ensign, 5/1988, 88

    I hope you feel well soon. Thanks again for recommending “Man & Women: Joy in Oneness.” I enjoy it.

  340. LisaB on October 4, 2005 at 8:14 am

    Julie–Well, given the judgmental nature of my last post, I can understand if you want to distinguish betwen my views and yours even if we are generally in agreement. You’ve gotten enough grief for your stance as it is!

    My understanding throughout my dating years was that not marrying outside of the covenant included at a minimum not marrying a non-member, but also not marrying an unworthy member, but even more than that, not marrying even a worthy member who was not a good match, or not “the right one, at the right time, in the right place”–even if that meant forgoing marriage altogether–even marriage (or even dating!) to someone you love and want to be with if they don’t fit the requirements God has set. I know, easy for me to say in my happily married state. I’m just explaining my understanding and the counsel I believed I was given and tried to follow when I was dating. Perhaps my strong stance is a way to reaffirm to myself that my own sacrifices in this area were needful and right and not simply a result of self-righteousness, pride, unnecessary black & white thinking, or some other failure on my part.

    I am sorry if my judgmental “not equally yoked” statement above offended anyone. Of course I can only speak from my own experience, what those close to me have shared about their marriages, what I understand to be the counsel I have received from leaders, and what I observe in the world around me (which of course all may be misperceived and misinterpreted).

  341. Jennifer H. on October 4, 2005 at 9:18 am

    Wow! I find it amazing that the health benefits of marriage (i.e. earthly, no-matter-where-or-by-what-power marriage) are not more widely expounded in this thread. We all need love, affection, family, and–I’ll say it–most of us need sex. For those who say a life-long single (celibate) is in no way compromised emotionally or psychologically by remaining single, I wonder if they are reading insult into this earlier statement where none was intended. I married in my mid-thirties for the first time and in a few years learned more from living and being with a partner than I did from five years in grad school! :). More specifically, whether a partner is member, non-member, or whatever–there are social and emotional skills to be gained from befriending and dating regularly. Isolating oneself because there are no members to date and asking special sanction to date a “non-member” just underscores the loneliness and its attendant problems.

  342. Jennifer H. on October 4, 2005 at 9:19 am

    I forgot to add that IMO, this is one reason that “it is not good for man to be alone.” It is simply not good because we are meant to grow and learn as partners. It’s also “better to marry than to burn.”

  343. LisaB on October 4, 2005 at 10:24 am

    I agree w/ everything you’ve said, Jennifer, about the value of marriage–except possibly for us “needing” sex or marriage. Yes, we are designed to want it. Yes, there are benefits from it. Yes, it makes life easier in some ways (and more difficult in others). But we won’t “die” without it (at least not without it temporarily. I guess that’s why I think celibacy should be addressed more specifically by the church–difficulties acknowledged, importance of it and possible benefits (spiritually) of it pointed out, possible traps illuminated and strategies discussed, etc. Some of this is done in a veiled way in talks directed to the “singles” in the church, but I think more a more direct tack would be helpful.

    I don’t completely know why the church so strongly encourages our youth to plan and work and save and even sacrifice for a temple marriage. But I think Julie has touched on many of them above (as well as some of the quotes from prophets). I don’t pretend to understand the necessity of sealing but have felt its power in my marriage and my relationship with God, and believe there must be something to the claims of its necessity, more that I cannot see or yet comprehend, since that is what prophets who I believe in have taught.

  344. Jennifer H. on October 4, 2005 at 11:18 am

    So this is what confuses me: are the only people on earth who “need to” or are “entitled to” be married:

    1. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are eligible for sealing in the temple?

    2. People who are physically, emotionally and sexually attractive who don’t know they won’t die if they never have sex or get married at all, but marry because it’s a commandment?

    Because if marriage is not something that many people “need” for fulfillment, why should anyone besides those who are eligible for exaltation even bother?

  345. Jennifer H. on October 4, 2005 at 11:21 am

    Ooh, I meant (2): “…[people who] know they won’t die if they (are abstinent or remain unmarried) but marry because it’s a commandment.”

    I’m just curious; for those who think marriage is so sacred or special that only certain people should marry, and that marriage should be restricted to certain circumstances or contracted by only LDS authority if at all possible, what are the benefits of “regular” marriage? Are they any? Do you consider some marriages less valuable than others because of where and how they are contracted?

  346. GeorgeD on October 4, 2005 at 12:19 pm

    I wonder if anyone actually said only certain people should marry?

    I believe that the world and possibly even members of the church need to reform their view of sex in marriage. This may be the first key to teaching the world about sex outside of marriage. I think that there is too much emphasis on sex in marriage. It is a great thing but frankly I think many (perhaps mainly men) think of it as a physical release. This is a pretty base way to think of it and as long as we do think of it this way it is hardly more than masturbation.

    The procreative part of sex needs to be emphasized and then we can speak of the unitive nature of sex. (I am not speaking against sex for the infertile).

    The beginning of a reformation in the sexual attitudes of our youth will happen when the sexual attitudes of their married parents changes. And perhaps then temple marriage will become even more important to our youth.

  347. Kaimi on October 4, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    Lisa, Julie, et al,

    We certainly “need” non-temple marriage. Temples were removed from the earth for centuries. During that time, it’s either NTM or fornication. Temples remain unavailable for people in many areas of the world. Again, it’s either NTM or fornication.

    I recall numerous stories told by general authorities and others, praising saints who saved up for years and traveled long distances to have their families sealed together. The worldwide presence of temples is an extremely new development.

    Finally, I am dubious of any approach that condemns marriages of prophets — such as Joseph’s original marriage to Emma — as essentially worthless.

    If no-marriage is better than NTM, then query why the prophet and leader of this dispensation chose NTM rather than simply remaining celibate until temples were restored.

  348. Jessica Benet on October 4, 2005 at 12:35 pm

    Some things to consider.

    1. Why do people have to get married in the temple anyway? No, Sunday School answers of “because the prophets said so,” are not allowed. I’ve been Mormon my whole life, I know them already. I want a real reason. Are my non-member family members going to stop being my family because we aren’t sealed in a temple? No, they’re not. Am I going to be ripped away from my family after this life? No, I am not. Does the church teach that the temple is the one true way? Yes. Does it also teach that basically all good people will eventually choose it? Sorta.

    Onto 2. What about a person who joins The Church and is married at the time they join to someone who doesn’t belong to The Church? The Church doesn’t tell them to get divorced, right, so what’s the big difference? What if a person falls in love with someone and feels that the Holy Ghost is prompting them to get married to that person?

    3. Getting married in the temple is the rule of thumb, possibly even just the rule, but there are exceptions to every rule. I think people should look to marry in the temple, but if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. “It” can be marriage and “it” can be specifically temple marriage. There are plenty of ways that people cannot grow on their own–that’s what marriage is for, right? So, would God essentially condemn those who can’t find LDS counterparts (but have no problem finding lots of really good non-LDS people to date) to stop their progression? Would He want every single person who can’t find a good LDS counterpart to just stay single forever?

    Then there’s the issue of sex. Yes, I said it, S-E-X. It is as close to a human “need” as it is possible to get and you don’t get it without marriage. Maybe it’s not that big of a deal, but wouldn’t God rather that someone get married and be able to enjoy that expression of themselves and their love to someone than to go an entire life without it? Also, I think it’s a better idea to have someone marry a non-member than to get further through life and have this unfulfilled semi-need. Isn’t it easier to remain faithful to a spouse (sexually) when you actually have one to be faithful to?

  349. manaen on October 4, 2005 at 12:59 pm

    Deja vu unchained – seems like this thread recycles the same issues, but from new writers, every 100-150 comments.

  350. Jennifer H. on October 4, 2005 at 1:03 pm

    Perhaps it’s because people are sincerely trying to understand this concept and different voices illuminate different aspects? What’s wrong with the same ideas being explained in different ways by different people?

  351. Jennifer H. on October 4, 2005 at 1:22 pm

    Oh, and saying that some people (i.e. those who cannot find temple-worthy partners) should remain unmarried rather than marry outside of the temple is saying that some people should not marry at all.

  352. DavidH on October 4, 2005 at 1:27 pm

    Returning to the original post: “Simple question: is any marriage better than no marriage? Specifically, is a non-temple marriage better than no marriage?”

    I would answer, “It depends.” I think that is Julie’s implicit answer as well, inasmuch as she allows that it is acceptable to follow inspiration to enter a non-temple marriage. And it seems to be the thrust of Elder Hanks’ answer, quoted two or three times above: “That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis, and essentially it is not a question that one person can answer for another. It must be handled in counsel with our Heavenly Father, and the answer must be sought through the Spirit.”

    I would add another question and answer: “Is a temple marriage better than no marriage?” I would also answer the question, “It depends.” The fact is, I would hope anyone entering into marriage, inside or outside the temple, would seek God’s inspiration or confirmation.

    I have been grateful that the Church’s position on birth control has been clarified to make clear that the question of the number and timing of children is between the husband and wife (with inspiration from the Lord), and that members should not judge one another based on the number of children.

    My own view of marriage is quite similar: the choice of marriage partner is between the man and woman (with God’s inspiration) and we should not judge others by the choice they make (or criteria they use).

    That being said, I believe marriage between partners of the same faith and beliefs greatly increases the likelihood of the marriage’s succeeding. I hope and pray each day that each of my children will find an eternal marriage companion with whom he or she can be sealed in the Holy Temple, and with whom they can live joyfully (most of the time) here and in the hereafter.

  353. B on October 4, 2005 at 1:31 pm

    “What’s wrong with the same ideas being explained in different ways by different people?”

    Because none of the people posting here are prophets. Therefore, the response to the points we bring up, no matter how many of us explain them, is not going to be “thank you for bringing up so many illuminating aspects of the concept and explaining them so clearly; I’ve learned a lot; after carefully weighing the persuasive value of your arguments, however, I’ve decided to stick with my previous opinion.” Instead it’s “logic won’t work on me, I’m going to refuse even to weigh any logical points you bring up, la la la la I can’t hear you.” It makes total sense that after a while, some posters just give up. And I’m sure the only reason new ones show up is because they haven’t read the preceding posts closely enough to realize that their efforts at increasing respect and understanding of differing viewpoints will accomplish nothing.

    Next time a non-member asks me whether Mormons deserve the reputation the antis give them for considering their religious community to be uniquely superior to the larger world community and for faith in prophets that is totally impervious to reason or logic, should I refer them to this thread, as a missionary tool?

  354. anon on October 4, 2005 at 1:50 pm

    “Because none of the people posting here are prophets.”

    How do you know?

  355. B on October 4, 2005 at 1:58 pm

    More to the point, how does Julie know?

  356. Bryce I on October 4, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    Julie, you should re-read Chad Too’s comment # 290. I think you’re misreading condition #5, which you reject out of hand as untenable. Your take:

    And those five conditions pretty much guarentee that no single woman would marry a nonmember. They require him (5) to promise to join the Church in the future. (And pretty much by definition, even if anyone who would promise to join the church in the future but refuse to do so now, they are guilty of “procrastinating the day of their repentence.”)

    What Chad Too wrote was actually:

    5) Before the wedding, the man must be specifically taught that, as the father in the home, eventually he would be expected to gain a testimony, join the Church, and be sealed to his spouse and family.

    There’s no requirement of the man promising to do anything, only that he be taught the doctrine of the church. He is required to promise to allow his prospective wife and children to be active in the church, but makes no promises as to his own future action.

  357. Julie in Austin on October 4, 2005 at 2:02 pm

    LisaB–

    I guess I see the “same standards” language as raising the bar higher than just membership (as in preempting the “But mom! He’s a *member* so it doesn’t matter if he has 100 tatoos, listens to death metal, and . . .” ) I wanted some clarity on the official counsel because I can see an appropriate context for nonmember dating: we assume that 16-18 year olds aren’t in the marriage market, so I’m not 100% convinced (again, barring a money quote from the Brethren) that nonmember dating is completely forbidden. But let me put my biases right on the table: I was converted as a teen because I was dating a member! Similarly, while I think someone in the marriage market may be asking for heartache by dating a nonmember, they may also be engaging in a serious missionary opportunity. So . . .

    Jennifer H.: I don’t think anyone has ignored the many benefits of any form of marriage; the question is whether they trump the disadvantages of a NTM. My opinion, as if it isn’t clear at this point, is that they don’t.

    Jennifer H. (#344): The premise of this discussion is whether a temple worthy LDS should enter a NTM. It is *not* whether a nonmember should enter a NTM. Clearly, a nonmember is better off married than not.

    Kaimi (re #347)–I hope that now that I have commented you are clear that this comment shouldn’t apply to me. Obviously there is great value in marriage for Gentiles.

    Jessica Bennet–

    I don’t know if you have read through this entire thread (and believe me when I say that I don’t blame you if you haven’t!), but here’s a brief recap to my answers to your questions; for me, you can see where I have addressed them above.

    1. I think we have very different views of covenants. I disagree with your answers here. It does matter, very much.

    2. I have stated from the beginning that a person inspired to enter a NTM is a distinct possibilty.

    3. Again, I’ve stated that there are exceptions, but they don’t negate the rule. We are apparently in agreement here.

    4. S-E-X. A God who would ask people to be mobbed out of several states, cross the plains in freezing weather, and bury their children on said plains may very well ask of some of us to sacrifice sex.

    DavidH–Thanks for your comment, very nice.

    B–I am sorry that this conversation has been so frustrating for you. I hope you realize that comments like #353 don’t encourage the fruitful discussion that you seem to want. (It is taking extreme effort for me to not match your snarkiness.)

  358. Julie in Austin on October 4, 2005 at 2:07 pm

    Bryce I–

    I’m honestly trying to see your point, but I don’t. Please help me. The disputed statement is:

    “Before the wedding, the man must be specifically taught that, as the father in the home, eventually he would be expected to gain a testimony, join the Church, and be sealed to his spouse and family.”

    If a bishop (or whoever) says to you: “I am teaching you that you are expected, if you marry this woman, to gain a testimony, join the church, and be sealed.”

    and you say, “OK.”

    Didn’t you just agree that by marrying the woman, you are agreeing to meet his three conditions?

    I may be misreading (5)–maybe ChadToo can answer that–but I don’t see another way to interpret it. If there is, tell me.

  359. manaen on October 4, 2005 at 2:07 pm

    350
    “What’s wrong with the same ideas being explained in different ways by different people?”
    It’s that the same ideas are being explained in the *same* ways by different people. Many of the recent answers here have been references to, or re-postings of, earlier answers to earlier postings of the same questions. I hoped my #349 would invite the new folks to read back and find the answers before they asked those who have learned from this thread to re-post for them.

    351
    “Oh, and saying that some people (i.e. those who cannot find temple-worthy partners) should remain unmarried rather than marry outside of the temple is saying that some people should not marry at all.” Is an example of this. Nobody here has said that you should remain unmarried without a reasonable prospect (to use Mark Butler’s phrase above) but this discussion has been about where is the line between reasonable prospect of a sealing in this life and not. People on all sides in this thread agreed it’s a matter of personal inspiration.

    Julie wrote:
    .
    “Where on earth did you get the idea that I deny that exceptions do exist? I state precisely the opposite in my first comment, where I note that I’m not going to argue with anyone’s personal revelation to marry a nonmember!” (#26)
    .
    “Again, because some of you haven’t noticed the first 40 times I’ve mentioned in: I think individuals can be inspired to do contract civil marriages, but they are the exception, not the rule.”

    —–

    “The endowment and sealing work for the dead is for those who died without having had the opportunity to hear and receive the gospel; also, for those who were faithful members of the Church who lived in foreign lands or where, during their life time, they did not have the privilege to go to a temple, yet they were converted and were true members of the Church. The work for the dead is not intended for those who had every opportunity to receive it, who had it taught to them, and who then refused to receive it, or had not interest enough to attend to these ordinances when they were living.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2: 184.) (first posted in #291)

    —–

    “Ensign: Some who have not had the opportunity, after many years, to marry a faithful Latter-day Saint wonder whether it would be better to forgo marriage entirely or to marry a good, moral non–Latter-day Saint in order to enjoy the blessings of family life here on earth.

    “Elder Hanks: That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis, and essentially it is not a question that one person can answer for another. It must be handled in counsel with our Heavenly Father, and the answer must be sought through the Spirit. There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.” (Ensign, 3/1989) (first posted in #129)

    And my own experience in #41.

  360. Kaimi on October 4, 2005 at 2:11 pm

    Julie,

    Sorry about that — sloppiness on my part, responding to various points made by you and Lisa, but not necessarily all shared by both of you.

  361. manaen on October 4, 2005 at 2:16 pm

    359
    uh oh, cropped the last part of Elder Hank’s comments. Here’s more:

    Elder Hanks: “That is not a question that can be answered on a general basis, and essentially it is not a question that one person can answer for another. It must be handled in counsel with our Heavenly Father, and the answer must be sought through the Spirit. There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.

    “But there can be missionary potential in the situation, too. Many men and women who have been converted through a faithful spouse bear testimony of their deep gratitude for a husband or wife, in-laws, and other loved ones who cared enough to share the gospel with them.

    “Some may never have an opportunity to marry in this life. However, the Lord’s prophets have taught us that all that is beautiful and lovely about eternal partnership and family life will be available sometime, and with joy we cannot imagine here, to those individuals who endure to the end in Christlike living.”

  362. why me on October 4, 2005 at 2:27 pm

    To live alone can be a rather lonely experience. I would not wish such a life on anyone especially now when more and more people are ‘bowling alone’ inside the community.

    The people who are married have very little time for single people. The raising of the family and protecting one’s leisure time has become very important for people. The singel person even in church can feel extremely lonely without a companion to share life with.

    If a person falls in love with a non-member should they deny that love and choose a life with their own company? Should love ever be denied if such love can bring togetherness and oneness to a person? Who here would be willing to suggest such a thing to someone and then turn their back on that person by entering into their own family life? It is a harsh world out there and I am not sure if love should ever be denied when we seem to live in a world that lacks time and place for other people outside the individual’s own family.

  363. Craig S on October 4, 2005 at 2:50 pm

    My uncle married a wonderful wife in the temple . However, very soon afterwards, my uncle went inactive. Many of my cousins grew up in a household wherein their father was inactive. My cousins are good men. However, to date two (of the 5) remain inactive. One of those two married a nice catholic girl (how this could happen in Ephraim, Utah I will never understand). Having been aquainted with them for the past 20 years, I can say that I am genuinely glad that my cousin married Cathy. She is one of the most Christian women I have ever met. She is a wonderful wife and mother. I still get emotional when I recall the attention she gave to my blind grandmother in her waning years…attention that other “temple worthy members” didnt have time to give. I think we get into trouble when we judge people on their outward achievements (i.e. temple marriage, being called as a bishop). It is best to marry in the temple. However, when I consider not having Cathy in the family I shudder in sadness.

  364. manaen on October 4, 2005 at 3:05 pm

    363.
    Craig, thanks for sharing that. I have a similar relationship now (#41) but inspiration is the key.
    BTW, “when I consider not having Cathy in the family I shudder in sadness” is why we have temple sealings. Some folks say that is why to avoid NTM when possible. Others are willing to trade that companionship in this life for lack of it eternally.

  365. Julie in Austin on October 4, 2005 at 3:08 pm

    why me–

    I’ve been thinking for a long time about what I sometimes hear from single people: “Married people don’t include us!” But I’ll save it for a separate post (partially because even with DSL, this page takes FOREVER to load!). As for your second paragraph, I have to stick with the promises of the prophets that (1) in general, NTM isn’t the solution to these problems (and, as Carolyn noted, may not realistically be on the table, anyway) and (2) every lack will be more than made up for in the hereafter. Those are powerful promises.

    Craig wrote, “One of those two married a nice catholic girl (how this could happen in Ephraim, Utah I will never understand).”

    What’s funny about this is that after I moved to Utah to marry an RM and that had that plan crash, my (nonmember) Dad said on the phone, “Now how are you going to find a nice Catholic boy to marry THERE?”

    Also, Craig, thanks for sharing Cathy’s story and for reaffirming what I have been saying all along: that sometimes people *are* inspired to NTM and that we shouldn’t judge those who do. Thanks.

  366. Bryce I on October 4, 2005 at 3:15 pm

    Julie In Austin said:

    #

    Bryce I–

    I’m honestly trying to see your point, but I don’t. Please help me. The disputed statement is:

    “Before the wedding, the man must be specifically taught that, as the father in the home, eventually he would be expected to gain a testimony, join the Church, and be sealed to his spouse and family.”

    If a bishop (or whoever) says to you: “I am teaching you that you are expected, if you marry this woman, to gain a testimony, join the church, and be sealed.”

    and you say, “OK.”

    Didn’t you just agree that by marrying the woman, you are agreeing to meet his three conditions?

    I may be misreading (5)–maybe ChadToo can answer that–but I don’t see another way to interpret it. If there is, tell me.

    The requirement, as I see it (especially as contrasted with the rest of the list that Chad Too gives) is that the doctrine be taught to the prospective spouse, not that he accept it. Here’s a possible gloss: “You can do what you want, but I want you to know that I expect that you will gain a testimony, join the church, and be sealed to me, so don’t complain that I keep trying to talk about church with you, or that I keep inviting the missionaries over for dinner, or pray that you will feel the influence of the Holy Ghost. Don’t tell me to forget about it after we’re married. At any rate, if you don’t join the Church in this life, your temple work will definitely be done for you.”

    I may be reading too much into the requirement, but I can’t imagine that the area president who spoke at the meeting that Chad Too attended intended to give a list of unfulfillable conditions.

  367. LisaB on October 4, 2005 at 3:15 pm

    Kaimi & JenniferH–My comments have been pretty specifically about endowed or at the very least temple-recommend carrying members since I thought that was the focus of this post and question.

    Kaimi–Actually, many “earthly” marriages were dissolved when sealing was instituted, and some members sealed to others. Brigham Young especially tended to view temporal marriage rather dimly. I don’t know that I completely agree with those early LDS attitudes about civil marriage–or marriage performed by other clergy or LDS clergy but without the sealing power, but do understand the desire to make clear the importance of sealing when it was instituted, particularly since many who had married priorly understood their commitment to be ’til death, when those married after sealing was instituted understood that they were making an eternal commitment. We are only accountable for a law after it has been given. So this is a whole different thing. Of course no one was required to marry in the temple when that wasn’t possible. That doesn’t put civil or otherwise religious marriage on equal footing with temple marriage. Not even close.

    You do have a good point about marriage being encouraged even in areas where temples are not available, but we’re not really talking about temple availability here though. Because even if there isn’t a temple nearby, one can still decide to only marry a temple-worthy individual, then get to a temple as soon as possible. Also, the scarcity of temples is being “worked on” at a furious pace. One stated reason for Pres Hinckley’s focus on increasing the number of temples worldwide is so members will be without excuse for not going to the temple.

    What we’re talking about here is marriage partner availability. Marrying outside of the covenant if you are within the covenant drastically reduces your chances of fulfilling the covenants you have entered into.

    Well hello again B. Yes, it’s difficult to try to be religious without being at some time accused of self-righteousness. I think it would be great for investigators to be able to read discussions on the bloggernacle and on other Mormon discussion sites as part of their exploration of the gospel.

  368. B on October 4, 2005 at 7:22 pm

    #357 Julie: you’re right, I don’t even try to encourage fruitful discussion with people who have said they aren’t interested in weighing the logic behind my point of view. When you told me that was where you stood, I did stop trying. Please forgive my two snarky comments above; I was hurt by your apparent invitation to reasoned conversation suddenly being revoked via the “logic won’t work” comment. Those three words suddenly made everything I had said or wanted to say completely irrelevant, which was hurtful because I really was trying to be thoughtful and add something of value to the conversation up till that point.

    If my contributions are weighed and found wanting, I can live with that, but it was very hurtful to hear that you’re not even interested in doing the weighing. I can’t offer “logic-plus-authority” because I will never be a prophet or apostle. No one else on this thread can offer “logic-plus-authority” either, except to the extent they quote others, and yet I believe that weighing *each* of the viewpoints in this thread has value, including weighing those viewpoints without authority. (Hmm…parallels to the “does marriage have value outside of authority?” issue.)

    I now, once again, wish to add something I think would be of value to the conversation. It appears as the last paragraph of this comment. It is based in logic, and I’d appreciate if those who read it would carefully weigh it, but it falls outside the realm that you allow for logic and careful weighing in 335, so please consider it directed not to you, but only to those who are interested. In fact, this is the last comment I will direct to you unless/until you express an interest in weighing the mere logic I have to offer. Whether or not that ever happens, you have my goodwill.

    “I think it would be great for investigators to be able to read discussions on the bloggernacle and on other Mormon discussion sites as part of their exploration of the gospel.”

    Hello again, LisaB. Investigators with access to the internet *are* able to read discussions on the bloggernacle as part of their exploration of the gospel. What’s stopping them?

    To Whom it May Concern:
    Suppose there is an non-member married to a member of the church. Suppose that member had plenty of opportunities to marry in the temple (temple close by, lots of temple-worthy members around) but chose to marry the non-member they fell in love with instead, without even praying or getting confirmation first…just rushing into it. Years have passed, they’ve grown together and learned from each other, they’ve have had children, joys and tears, the investigator has always supported the member’s church activities, they are each other’s most intimate, trusted best friends. Over the years, the member has still never received any confirmation from the Spirit about that being the right person to marry. They do not fall within the “inspired toward NTM” exception nor within the “far from a temple” exception. Now the non-member spouse is seriously investigating the church, reading in the bloggernacle as part of their exploration of the gospel. How will that investigator feel as they read discussions by members doubting whether that marriage has any value at all, compared to singleness?

  369. Julie in Austin on October 4, 2005 at 8:39 pm

    Bryce I–

    /bonks forehead with heel of hand

    OH! Now I get it! Thanks. I think that your reading is just as reasonable as mine. Maybe ChadToo can let us know if his experience with the original suggests which reading was intended. Thanks, Bryce I, for your patience in explaining this to me.

    “I may be reading too much into the requirement, but I can’t imagine that the area president who spoke at the meeting that Chad Too attended intended to give a list of unfulfillable conditions.”

    Normally I would agree with you, but that bit about lecturing the single men while they stood made me wonder if this guy was one taco short of a combination plate.

    B–Again, sincerely sorry that you thought this was strictly a logic issue when I’ve been coming at it from a what-do-the-brethren-say? perspective. You said that your final paragraph wasn’t directed at me (or people like me), so feel free to stop reading right here and right now (don’t say I didn’t warn you!) if you don’t want my opinion on it, but here it is (last chance to stop reading!!):

    “members doubting whether that marriage has any value at all”

    After almost 400 comments, not a single person has even come close to intimating that a NTM has {no} value at all. Not even close. There’s only about 1/2 dozen people in my trench, so I’ve kept a close eye on them, and not a single one has even gotten in this ballpark. We all recognize the value of NTM, we just don’t think the value of it outweighs the disadvantages of it.

    I’m not making this statement to draw you back in to discussing the issue with me (I suspect we both think that fruitless at this point); I am making it because I don’t want anyone who dozed off 100 comments ago to come back and think I own the idea that NTM has no value. I don’t.

  370. manaen on October 4, 2005 at 8:59 pm

    368, 369

    “members doubting whether that marriage has any value at all”
    and
    “How will that investigator feel as they read discussions by members doubting whether that marriage has any value at all, compared to singleness?”

    I hope I’m one of the 1/2 dozen Julie claims. I see NTM as a lesser good, not as something without value. As I posted in #246, “A good civil marriage will lift you, but nowhere near as high as will a good temple marriage. In my view, a civil marriage isn’t a sin, but it may preclude you from the further heights available through a temple marriage and we do not have any promises that won’t happen. Instead, we have warnings like Elder Hanks “There are grave risks, of course, that eternal blessings may not be obtained if a nonmember spouse never develops an interest in the gospel.” (129 above). He doesn’t talk about sin and repentance, but failing to obtain greater blessings in addition to our current state.”

    I don’t suppose that an investigator who is aware of our belief in sealings would be offended by us preferring they greater of two goods. I also suppose that investigator would understand the inclination to pass on a lesser good that we believe could preclude a greater one. N. Eldon Tanner described sacrifice as “giving up something which is good for something which is better.” My experience has been that informed investigators aren’t troubled by that. This would be even more likely when coupled with this thread’s consistent acknowlegement that an individual’s inspiration trumps the guideline in deciding this.

  371. Julie in Austin on October 4, 2005 at 9:00 pm

    To finish my thought and answer the question, I would hope that the investigator might come away from reading this thread with an understanding of how very, very important eternal covenants are–even more important than the indisputable good that can come from a NTM.

  372. Julie in Austin on October 4, 2005 at 9:02 pm

    Manean beat me by one minute, and said it better than I did to boot.

    (And if I am allowed to claim you for my trench, I certainly will.)

  373. Mike B on October 4, 2005 at 11:46 pm

    Holy smokes! B in 276. Where did that come from? The odds are that the 21-year old RM is gay? I don’t think “cynical” even begins to describe this. This scenario also sounds like the subject is simply picking mates from a catalogue without going through the courting process.

    Covenants do mean something. No doubt that God will reward the person who becomes like Christ in this life (assuming that person did not reject a genuine opportunity to accept the restored gospel). But “poof” and post-mortal temple work will take care of it all? I can just see this conversation: Well, Lord, I didn’t want to marry the RM because I thought the odds were that he was really gay, but just hiding it.

  374. Mike B on October 5, 2005 at 1:18 am

    Confused #302 – “Not to disparage single LDS men, but given the focus on celibacy, etc., some LDS men who don’t marry and are up there in years are kind of strange.”

    So not having sex makes LDS men strange? Or were they strange to begin with and therefore did not have sex?

  375. Confused on October 5, 2005 at 10:28 am

    I’d rather a forty-year old never-married LDS man had sex and repented (including, ahem, solo), than never had a sexual relationship. No 40 year old virgin for me. Sorry! To answer your question, not having sex makes people strange, period. They’re too focused on not “doing anything bad” that they become squeamish, neurotic, nerdy, dysfunctional, etc. And so it’s even harder for them to relax and want to get married, meet people, in the first place. I know a fifty year old who’s never been kissed. That’s pathetic. He also refuses to hug people because according to his understanding, anything that provokes even an involuntary sexual response is sinful. The older they get, the more permutations and combinations they go through to avoid sex. And that’s bad.

  376. B on October 5, 2005 at 11:20 am

    Actually, Mark B, that situation that you thought I was “beyond cynical” to even suggest was the one that actually happened to me, though not precisely as I presented it. I am a female (Julie assumed earlier that I was a “he” and I didn’t bother to correct her because it wasn’t relevant till now), and I married a gay RM in the temple. Contrary to your clever remark, I did not pick him out of a catalogue; we courted and fell deeply in love. I knew he “struggled with SSA” (as I called it then) because he told me of his years of reparative therapy, following which he had branded a “success story.” We had each received confirmation from the Spirit and were each promised very explicitly in multiple priesthood blessings that his “SSA” would not doom the marriage. Nothing could have been further from the truth; that marriage was doomed from the get-go, and solely because of that issue (our values and goals remained the same throughout the brief marriage, and our close friendship remains intact to this day).

    In hindsight, I do believe that it would have been much better for my personal well-being and growth to have married a good and decent non-member who wouldn’t find my body repulsive just because it is a woman’s body. Even from your perspective, such a NTM would have been better, because the odds of my remaining in the church would have been greater. Nothing destroys a testimony like being expressly promised something via priesthood and Spirit and having it not even remotely come true. The problem with the idea of my marrying a non-member instead is that prior to my marriage experience, I never would have dreamed of marrying a non-member. After all, I was brought up to marry an RM in the temple after having had the decision confirmed by the Spirit. That was the Right Way, no bones about it. And that’s what I did. And yet look where I am. Let me tell you how much better it makes me feel to be reminded that my experience was the “exception” rather than the “rule” and therefore didn’t need to be mentioned in my YW classes except as a brief aside (“always exceptions!”): not one bit better.

    I won’t be reading this thread to see anyone attempt a compassionate response, trying to explain away the inconsistencies between what I was promised and what occurred. Sure, there are ways to twist things around to try to make it make sense. But trust me, anything you could provide along those lines would only be “logic,” not the “logic-plus-authority” of the well-intentioned but profoundly mistaken gentlemen who provided those blessings. I put my faith in them, their authority, and in the Spirit that accompanied their words. It actually has turned out rather well for me in the end; I am much happier outside the church than in it. And that is yet another delightful turn in my life that I would never have dreamed of taking but for this experience.

  377. LisaB on October 5, 2005 at 12:21 pm

    MikeB and Confused–I think this is a very unkind characterization of celibate individuals–and particularly to base such a generalization on one individual who you judge to be strange and attribute that strangeness to celibacy. There are plenty of neurotics, weirdos, nerds, and dysfunctional people among those of us who happen to be married as well as among those who happen to be single. We’re just less obvious than the singles of our ilk due to our marriage-focused LDS culture and sex-focused larger culture. I hardly think the solution (for anyone) is premeditated immorality/repentance.

    As for the idea that singles are spiritually disadvantaged, the best comparison I can make to argue against this idea is my own experience with being childless in LDS culture. I agree that we learn things from being parents. However, my 8 years married without children was essential to my spiritual growth in ways that I don’t think I could have grown had I been distracted by parenting during that same time. It also provided opportunities for church and other service and work that I wouldn’t have been able to do had I had children sooner. Only God knows our individual spiritual needs and path (including marital status and parenthood status). I’m not going to make judgements about anyone’s spiritual stature based on their marital status, number of children, socioeconomic status or income, etc., etc.

    B–We’re discussing this very issue over at FMH as we speak. Hope you’ll share your story there as well. It is demoralizing in the extreme when doing what we are inspired and counseled to do colossally flops. It is painfully difficult when promised blessings do not materialize. It is especially hard when people we trust are just flat out wrong–but particularly when the carry the weight of church authority and sanction. You may not believe me when I say it, but I have experienced and continue to live this experience, though the particulars differ.

  378. Confused on October 5, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    I still think it’s dysfunctional to run away from physical contact, and forced celibacy is just self-fulfilling prophecy. Some abstinent Mormons feel that if premarital sex is next to murder in seriousness, why even hold a gun? They also, obviously, lack practice in basic hugging, touching, contact that every human needs to survive. KNowing they have to repent of and confess everything from m* to intercourse makes them squeamish about having emotionally or physically intimate relationships with the opposite sex, and they don’t even want to think about sex themselves. I’ve had people in this situation tell me these things from their own lips, so no, I’m not making “unkind judgements” based on prejudice, I’m telling you this is the experience of celibate Mormons I know. Your mileage may vary.

  379. GeorgeD on October 5, 2005 at 1:05 pm

    Confused, The world undoubtedly agrees with you. Orgasm is the greatest good in the world. Better yet it may be the only good in the world.

    God says something else though. Perhaps we ought to pay attention to what he says. If we consecrate our sexuality to God we may never have any expression of it. Yes the world trembles at the thought. It’s inconceivable. Howls and outrage will follow.”How can you say this?” they’ll shout and scream.

    I can say it because it is true.

  380. Julie in Austin on October 5, 2005 at 1:09 pm

    B in #376: My apologies for mistaking your gender. I’m also truly sorry for your past experiences.

  381. GeorgeD on October 5, 2005 at 1:10 pm

    B But there is one problem. You really can’t get yourself out of the church can you? You still have to have some connection with it. It is frequently so. We leave the church but the church doesn’t leave us and we struggle with it. If you were really happy I don’t even think that a heterodox Mormon site like this would have the slightest interest. I say Move Back since moving on doesn’t seem to be working.

  382. Confused on October 5, 2005 at 1:40 pm

    Sheesh! All I’m saying is it’s dysfunctional to be a 40 year old virgin–in or out of the church. I’m just speaking out of experience and out of the knowledge I have of psychology and physiology, both of which I’ve studied extensively. I’m not making value judgements about fornication, I’m just saying that it’s better to have loved and lost… and it’s healthier too!

  383. GeorgeD on October 5, 2005 at 2:18 pm

    Sheesh! It’s not dysfunctional unless you believe that orgasm is the god of this world.

  384. Confused on October 5, 2005 at 2:56 pm

    I dunno, most mature adults don’t reduce sex to orgasms or confuse sex with God. Most normal humans have this need, and have it satisfied as far as they can. This is one reason why marriage is better than non-marriage, even if the marriage is (gasp!) outside the temple.

  385. Mike B on October 5, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    B in 376 – I appreciate your response. Your original post on this sounded like you were generalizing about all RMs. I should have seen that it was based on your personal experience. Sounds horrible. Sorry it happened to you. That having been said, I would not presume that a RM is gay simply because he’s young and RM. But then, I’m pretty sure you don’t really mean that. It just turned out that YOUR RM was gay and hiding it. Doesn’t give you any consolation, but doesn’t make all other RMs gay (or even a significant portion of them).

  386. Mike B on October 5, 2005 at 4:16 pm

    377 LisaB – “MikeB and Confused–I think this is a very unkind characterization of celibate individuals-”

    Not sure you intended to do lump me in there, but I was critizing this characterization, not making it.

  387. LisaB on October 5, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    I very definitely meant to lump you in there Mike. You criticized the stated cause of the characterization, but let the characterization itself stand. In fact, you compounded it.

  388. Adam Greenwood on October 5, 2005 at 11:09 pm

    The horse you rode in on is dead.

  389. Julie in Austin on October 8, 2005 at 10:35 pm

    I opened comments so I could beat this horse one last time:

    In reading the new bio of President Kimball, I learned something new: GAs are not permitted to conduct civil weddings. I thought this was interesting, given the discussion above about bishops performing civil weddings.

    OK, the horse can RIP now.