SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday a major change that “members who marry in a civil ceremony no longer face an automatic year-long wait before they can be eligible for a temple sealing, an ordinance that allows a marriage to continue after death,” according to the Deseret News.
“The policy requiring couples who have been married civilly to wait one year before being sealed is now discontinued,” the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday morning in a letter. “Couples who have been married civilly may be sealed in the temple when they receive their temple recommends.”
According to the Deseret News, the policy change could “make it easier for some families who have struggled to balance temple marriage celebrations when some family members are not church members. Only worthy church members can enter temples and attend temple sealings.”
The change in policy comes with a few questions, answers to some of which were posted on the church's Newsroom site.
"How can the temple sealing’s significance be emphasized when a civil marriage is performed, too?"
The change in policy should not be seen as a lessening of the emphasis on the temple sealing, the Newsroom post reads.
“The sealing of a husband and wife in the temple is of eternal significance and a crowning experience in the covenant path,” the Newsroom post reads.
“Where possible, couples should be encouraged to be simultaneously married and sealed in the temple. Where a licensed marriage is not permitted in the temple, or when a temple marriage would cause parents or immediate family members to feel excluded, a civil ceremony followed by a temple sealing is authorized,” the Newsroom post reads.
“A civil marriage ceremony performed for a couple being sealed in the temple should be simple and dignified,” the Newsroom post reads. “Leaders help members understand the importance and sanctity of the temple sealing so that the sealing is the central focus of the marriage and provides the spiritual basis on which the couple begins their life together.”
"How soon after a civil marriage can members be sealed in the temple?"
According to the Newsroom post, there is no specific timeline for when members should be sealed after being married civilly.
“Priesthood leaders interview couples and provide temple recommends when the couple is both worthy and ready to be sealed in the temple,” the Newsroom post reads. “Worthy and prepared couples can be sealed as soon as circumstances permit.”
"Can church meetinghouses be used for civil marriages?"
Yes. According to the Newsroom post, those who plan on having a civil marriage in a church meetinghouse should meet with their bishop to review the guidelines as soon as possible.
"Do newly baptized members need to wait a year before he or she is sealed in the temple?"
Yes. New members are eligible to receive their endowment and be sealed in the temple one year from when they receive their confirmation, the Newsroom post reads.
“If they choose to be married civilly during the year, they can still be sealed one year from the date of their confirmation,” the Newsroom post reads.
“As they prepare to receive their endowment and be sealed, they can qualify for and use a limited-use temple recommend for proxy baptisms and confirmations. Leaders could also encourage them to gather family names for temple ordinances,” the Newsroom post reads.