Non-Member Families and Temple Marriage

Hear an August 2012 Viewpoint on Mormonism on the Journal of Discourses and Temple Marriage 

By Bill McKeever

The wedding of a child is probably one of the most anticipated events a parent can expect; yet in Mormonism, only “temple worthy” members are allowed to witness the ceremony. This includes family members of either the bride or groom who are not LDS.

The February issue of Ensign magazine (pp.32-35) addressed the very real problem of how to deal with family members who are prevented from attending the temple wedding solely because they are not members of the LDS Church. For an organization that claims to be family oriented, this prohibition comes as an amazing contradiction. Such a policy has led to serious criticism and bitterness from family members who are basically treated like second-class citizens.

In the “Questions and Answers” section of the magazine, members submitted what they felt were possible solutions that might alleviate the misunderstanding and hurt feelings non-member parents feel. Most of them were very superficial while others almost seemed condescending.

A couple of the suggestions deal with what I call “early notification.” Apparently some Mormons feel that by not waiting until the last moment to tell your parents they are not invited to the wedding somehow will make them feel better.

Others suggested writing a letter explaining how “you” feel about temple marriage. Another suggested promising the parents you will pour accolades on them at the reception.

One woman admitted that even though their wedding day was “bittersweet,” she and her husband “decided to focus on the temple experience and hope that time would heal the wounds.” Another woman said getting her stepmother and father to help with the flowers, jewelry, and photography at least helped them feel “involved.”

As a father who was privileged to perform the wedding ceremony for both of my daughters, I can’t help but feel that these suggestions fall far short of being even remotely satisfactory. How many cultures would not see such a policy as anything less than insulting and disrespectful?

What is telling is that no one wrote to say that treating their parents in such a manner won them to Mormonism. Should we not be surprised? Preventing a parent from witnessing the marriage of their child has to be one of the more bizarre aspects of the LDS faith. Certainly there is not one scripture that supports such a practice. And nowhere in history do we ever find this to be the norm in Christianity.

For more on this topic, go offsite to Temple wedding off limits to non-Mormon family by Jaimee Rose (The Arizona Republic)

For more on temples, click here.