Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Eternal Marriage Myth

The other day, a comment was left on my wife’s blog about her decision to leave the Mormon church. My wife chose to take the higher road, which I admire her for. I personally prefer the “road less traveled” so this is my reply to the same comment. It is with her permission that I use the comment in question. It was as follows…

”So how does it feel to know that you WILL NOT be with your husband and daughter that you love so much for ever?

Regardless of your beliefs, had your marriage occurred in any forum or religion other than a temple marriage, the last words before you say I do are "til death do us part".


First, for many who are not familiar to the idea of Celestial or Eternal Marriage, here is some information from lds.org to explain what it is.

“The covenant of eternal marriage is necessary for exaltation. The Lord revealed through Joseph Smith: "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase" (D&C 131:1–4).

”After receiving the sealing ordinance and making sacred covenants in the temple, a couple must continue in faithfulness in order to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and exaltation.”


I really don’t care about the actual ceremony itself because many churches have their own unique way to performing marriages so I can understand that. The problem is that it divides families and does not allow those who are not considered worthy to enter the temple to be a part of it. Instead, they are relegated to second class citizens, forced to wait outside, only to hear about how great the moment they missed was. Talk about adding insult to injury. It is like saying, “your not one of us so not only are we going to not let you in on our little ritual, but were gong to tell you how beautiful and special it was and that it was too bad you missed it. If only you were Mormon too, then you could have seen your own daughter/son or brother/sister married.” And all this time I thought the church was really about family.

The greater issue when looking at eternal marriage is what comes after the ceremony. Being married for eternity or “sealed” as they call it really does nothing because you are never guaranteed the blessings promised.

Elder Bruce McConkie in his book “Mormon Doctrine” talks about this.

”Marriages performed in the temples for time and eternity, by virtue of the sealing keys restored by Elijah, are called celestial marriages. The participating parties become husband and wife in this mortal life and if after their marriage they keep all the terms and conditions of this order of the Priesthood, they continue on as husband and wife in the Celestial Kingdom of God. Celestial Marriage puts a couple on the path leading to exaltation of heaven of that world.”

”Those who have been married in the temples for eternity know that the ceremony itself expressly conditions the receipt of all promised blessings upon the subsequent faithfulness of the husband and wife.


The odds of actually doing enough to make it happen are stacked against you. All it takes is one mistake by either of you and the promise is null and void. If you or anyone in your family does not reach each “spiritual milestone” on the path to exaltation then they will not be with you.


Whymormon.net says it pretty well.


• Don't pay your tithing? Your family won't be together.
• Don't perform secret rituals in the temple? Your family will be separated.
• Someone in the family doesn't believe? You can't be with them.
• Children not married in the temple? Eternal separation.
• Family not active in church? You won't be together.
• Someone in the family not a member? They're cut off.
• Relatives not members? You can't be with them.


If you look at the average ward membership numbers and then count the number of people who actually attend, you will see that only around ½ of them are active at that is probably being generous. That leaves a lot of people who, in some way, are tied to an eternal family that will not be allowed to be with their loved ones when they die.

The LDS church teaches that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man”. They interpret that to mean that you can not be exalted without being married to someone who is also worth to make it. What happens if your significant other decides to do something as small as have a cup of coffee every morning? Not obeying the Word of Wisdom would keep him/her from being worthy of attending the temple and entering the CK. If they died before they repented, then that would in affect destroy the bonds between you because they would not be allowed into the highest kingdom of heaven. How sad to think that you could spend your whole life focused on eternity to have it slip through your fingers at the last moment because of something you had no control over.

I think of the unnecessary pain and sadness my poor mother has gone through as she has had to deal with husbands who have not lived up to their end of the deal and two sons who do not prescribe to the Mormon faith. Much of her grief stems from the idea of an eternal family that will never be. Where is the hope in that?

One of the things that attracted my wife to the church was the idea of an eternal family and the strong family values the Mormon church presented. When I stopped going to church, she began to wonder what would happen if I never came back. The idea that you can not be exalted without your husband or wife was hard for her to accept. How could someone else have that kind of control over your personal salvation? Some people told her not to worry but that God would work it all out in the end. That if she held up her end of the bargain that she would still have a chance of being exalted but with another man. That thought disgusted her. Why would she want to be eternally married to someone she does not even know or love? She has found comfort and peace in her new beliefs because she is now fully in charge of her own salvation through Christ. She has faith that she will be with her loved ones in Heaven when the time comes.

As far as I'm concerned being an Eternal Family is really only reserved for a "lucky" few in the church. If your child or another member of your family does not follow the gospel 100% then I’m sorry to say that, despite all your efforts, they won’t be with you in the Celestial Kingdome. There are too many restrictions on it to really make it as great as it sounds.

15 comments:

  1. Many are called, but few are chosen.

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  2. Bryce,
    Care to elaborate? I would be curious to know if you are married or if you have kids. If you do, would you stand by this same phrase should one of your loved ones decide Mormonism was not right for them?

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  3. Mr. Bryce,

    With all due respect the phrase "many are called, but FEW are chosen" in this context is very hard to find HOPE.

    Would you say that everyone is called to marry in the temple and be sealed, but few are chosen for the celestial kingdom with their original mate from their earthly life?

    No wonder so many mormons are stressed out and on anit-depressant pills. They fall short everyday of their earthy life trying to obtain the celestial kingdom.

    (to all the readers)
    How do you all find HOPE in this conditional doctrine?

    God is not a God of confusion.

    "celestial marriage results from undeviating and PERFECT devotion to the cause of righteousness."

    NO ONE can be PERFECT in this LIFE. Only JESUS is PERFECT.


    RECO-MO

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  4. Can I just shoot out a question I have been wondering. God, or the gate keepers of the fraternity/ sorority, need to have the secret handshakes and the mumbo jumbo and the name only your husband knows to call you forth. You can get all of this on the Internet and some are more than willing to tell you what their temple name is. If I can do all of this at the veil, will I be able to fool God or the gate keepers and get in? If not, then what is the purpose of all of this? If your husband forgets your name or decides he doesn't want you after eons of thought, is that a black marble for the wife? Also, is it true that the names given the day you go, are the same for everyone who goes through that day? Just a curious cat.

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  5. K*tty

    Thanks for dropping in!

    You are one step ahead of me. The topic I am currently working on is the Temple, what happens in there and why. You are not the only one who has those same questions.

    The topic of the temple is a touchy one for Mormons so I am trying to handle it appropriatly while providing enough information to make my point. I will give my thoughts on your questions. I should have it posted by the weekend.

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  6. It is unfortunate that someone who claims to be a member of Christ's church was so callous and plain mean to your wife. Ah, onward Christian soldiers....

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  7. K*tty

    There are two types of temple names: those given to individuals going through for their own endowments and those going through for proxy. Every temple around the world uses the same names on that particular day.
    Makes one feel pretty special. Can you imagine all the women who will arise on the morning of the first resurrection to the name that was given all over the world on (ex: June 4th 2008)? Talk about confusion. Husbands will just pick the prettiest and run with it thinking, "Heck she answered when I called."

    Soy Yo- can't wait to see the way you tip toe around the topic of the sacred temple.

    holding my breath

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  8. Jensie,
    It is sad that she has been treated the way she has by some Mormons she considered friends. The nice thing though is that some are beginning to understand what she is going through and they are not passing judgment.

    Anonymous,
    Unfortunately, I have never been too good at walking on egg shells so I’m sure I’ll step on some toes.

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  9. Ooh, great post!

    I too have always found it strange that going to the temple to be sealed as an eternal "family" leaves out a pretty significant group of people that can't even see the ceremony- ie: younger family members who are not old enough to attend the temple, family members who have "fallen away" so to speak (yeah, had one cup of coffee that morning), and family members who don't partake in the same faith, as was experienced in your situation.

    The church focuses sooo much on the family, which is great, but when it comes time for an eternal sealing, only those deemed worthy are able to attend. Kind of sad.

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  10. All schemes based on human merit will fail. Only by realizing our own sinfulness and depravity and trusting in Christ's perfect righteousness and sacrifice on the cross will happiness in this life and eternal bliss be found.

    Joseph Smith et al are just schemers and charlatans parading their own righteousness as an offering to God. Jesus said to all such, "Depart from me, I never knew you."

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  11. Soy yo:

    I just wanted to say- love the blog. Quick question: how do you get so many readers?

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  12. Thank you for the compliment. Truth is, I have pissed off a lot of people in the church by creating this blog. Many members say that they will never visit but from what I can tell, most of my readers come from the city I live in so I assume they read even if they dont admit it or comment. They are always welcome;)

    I also try to read other blogs and offer up comments. That lets people link to your blog so they can check it out. When I started my wife, who loves to blog, told me that in order to get comments you have to comment yourself so I make it a point to do just that. It took me a while to get a steady group of readers so hang in there and you will too. Once people put you on their blog roll, like I have done for you and you for me, more will be able to find you.

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  13. Someone who knows you are wrongJune 19, 2008 at 3:11 PM

    This reminds me a little of Matthew chapter 10 around verse 34.

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  14. Someone who knows you are wrongJune 19, 2008 at 3:13 PM

    BTW, and you do not have to publish this, it is unfortunate that someone would react in this fashion to your wife.

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  15. Hi soy coffee weakens our nervous system and heart, try peppermint herbal tea has the same affect but is not addictive. God has blessed me with his knowledge and word of wisdom is for our physical health as well if we obey this law of health we will be more spiritual as Gods Commandments are not carnal but spiritual and those of us who try and do these things shall have more spirituality and be much happier in this life.
    God told me 28 years ago that everything that is natural comes from him and anything that is addictive comes from satan and he is out to destroy all of Heavenly fathers children, especially now that we are in the last days.
    Concerning the point many are called but few are chosen, the chosen are those who seak for things pertaining to the Kingdom of God and not the world.
    Mortal life is very short compared to the eternities. I have used herbs for 23 years for all sorts of afflictions and they work everytime. God loves all of his children and only wants the best for all of us and wants us all back home with him,please do not let satan deceive you as he only wants us to be miserable like unto his self as he will never gain a body like we will.
    Love Susie

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