“Why can’t I just go into a Mormon temple for my son’s wedding?” My future father-in-law asked.
I met Anthony Hargrove when he was 23 and I was 25. I invited him to attend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church, with me. Several of Anthony’s employees were Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) and he was interested to see what Mormons believed. After the first church service, he scheduled an appointment with the Mormon missionaries to learn more. Anthony sought answers to questions about where he would go when he died and why God created family relationships on earth if those relationships wouldn’t continue after death. The Gospel of Jesus Christ restored fully in our times in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints answered his questions. Soon after his meeting with the missionaries, Anthony prayed to know if the Church was true. His prayers were answered affirmatively and my father baptized Anthony a member of The Church of Jesus Christ. Our relationship progressed and we determined to marry in the temple.
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ, Anthony and I believe that the temple is the House of the Lord. Temples are sacred buildings where ordinances–special acts or ceremonies that have spiritual meanings–are performed. One of those special ceremonies is a wedding. We believe that when married through God’s proper authority in a Latter-day Saint temple the marriage is bound on earth and in heaven. It’s called a ‘sealing’. Marriages performed without proper authority and outside the temple are bound only until the couple is parted by death.
Why Can’t I Enter a Mormon Temple?
Because temples are so sacred, strict standards are maintained regarding entrance. In reality, temples are accessible to every person willing to conform to the commandments of God. That standard includes exercising faith, repenting, being baptized by immersion by one holding proper authority into The Church of Jesus Christ, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and continuing a path of faithfulness by believing in God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, supporting Church leadership, maintaining appropriate family relationships, practicing chastity, honesty, and refraining from tea, coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Living this standard qualifies us for a Temple Recommend, which is a small certificate signed by local ecclesiastical leaders recommending worthiness to enter the House of the Lord. Youth can enter the temple to perform baptisms for the dead after they turn twelve years old. To participate in other temple ordinances, an adult must have been a member of the Church in good standing for at least a year. Before a temple is dedicated, it is open to the public for viewing. Everyone in the community is invited to attend the temple’s open house.
Weddings in temples are held in a lovely room without pomp and fanfare. Typically a bride and groom’s most intimate family and friends who have a temple recommend are invited to the wedding itself and then the couple holds a reception elsewhere for all other well wishers to attend.
Obeying God’s Commandment
While wonderful, faithful members of other Christian faiths, Anthony’s parents and brothers were not members of The Church of Jesus Christ. We explained that, for us, being married in the temple by someone having authority to marry us for eternity was a commandment from God and critical for us to obey. His parents offered their support to our union, but were very disappointed at not being able to attend the wedding of their youngest son. We lived in Lubbock, Texas, and his parents agreed to travel with us to the nearest temple in Dallas, Texas.
On our wedding day, Anthony and I brought our families to the temple. His parents waited outside of the temple with five of my siblings who were too young to attend the sealing. Anthony’s father asked my teenaged sisters if they were upset at not being able to attend the wedding. My sisters, who were 18 and 16 at the time, explained that they understood why they couldn’t participate and accepted it. While difficult to know parents felt excluded, the commandment to be married in the right place by someone with the right authority has blessed our marriage!
Anthony and I promised God and each other that we would be faithful to our marriage covenant. Because I know Anthony continues to be committed to live the standard to enter the temple, I can trust him implicitly! We are willing to work through hard things together and believe that because of the Savior’s Grace our marriage relationship will remain intact after we die.
If you would like to learn more about how your relationships can be blessed through the ordinances performed in Mormon Temples, I invite you to contact the missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.