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Temple sealing is an earthly ordinance

I find that at times, I have inadvertently offended others by the manner in which I use phrases that I have heard growing up in the church. For example, while commenting on a wonderful essay entitled I'm Okay; you're Okay by guest blogger Denae on Mormon Matters the other day, I used the phrase in my response, “We have so much more to offer the world.”

Now, I know I’ve heard that phrase used in a General Conference talk or two, by some General Authority, or maybe a prophet or two. Ah yes, here’s one recent instance…“We have so much to offer. Just think of what we have to offer. Other people do not understand the true nature of God.” That’s from President Hinckley, Feb 07 Ensign, in the section Stand taller.

And from President J. Reuben Clark in Oct 1949 General Conference, “Well, I have had so many experiences that I cannot understand why we cannot plant the truth in the hearts of our people until no outside thing or movement in the world can have any influence with them. We have so much more to offer than any other church in the world.”

Importance of sealing ordinances

The subject of the essay was temple marriage. It is a subject about which I am passionate and have written several times. Denae’s point was that she married someone not of our faith and that she had no intention of trying to convert him. She does not believe that it is necessary to be sealed in the temple to be together with him in the eternities. She wrote:

“I can’t believe that God would really split up a family after death because they didn’t perform a specific ceremony…That doesn’t sound like a nice God; that sounds downright mean. So I don’t believe that my husband (and any potential future children) will be separated at death. Maybe in the hereafter we’ll have to do some extra work, maybe take some extra classes, something like that, but ultimately we’ll still be together.”

In addition to many others, I offered comments that expressed my understanding of the importance of the temple sealing. Among other things, I wrote, “I know God wants us to be together as families in the next life. That’s why we teach of the importance of receiving the sealing ordinance in this life. It cannot be performed in the hereafter.”

The sealing is an earthly ordinance

Denae wrote that she did not take offense at my response but several others apparently did. One labeled me an exclusionist with no empathy for those who do not enjoy my lack of self-doubt. I guess my strong assertion that the sealing was an earthly ordinance was something that he had never heard before, or if he had, that he did not believe or accept it.

Another claimed that my statement was not doctrinal and was very offensive to someone in Denae’s position. I’ll admit that it can be a tough thing to accept and that perhaps it may seem to be exclusionary. Nevertheless, it is doctrinal and has been since 1843. It is found in canonized scripture in verse 18 of section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants:

“…if a man marry a wife, and make a covenant with her for time and for all eternity, if that covenant is not by me or by my word, which is my law, and is not sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, through him unto whom I have anointed and appointed unto this power, then it is not valid neither of force when they are out of the world, because they are not joined by me, saith the Lord, neither by my word; when they are out of the world it cannot be received there…”

Ordinances by proxy in the temples

Because God is a merciful as well as a just God, he has made provisions for those who are unable to receive the sealing ordinances in this life. Many people fall into this category. Obviously, those who lived at a time when the sealing power was not upon the earth did not have the opportunity to take advantage of it. That’s why we build temples.

The Lord has made it abundantly clear over the years that provisions will be made for those who do not receive the sealing ordinance of marriage in this life through no fault of their own. If they are worthy of such a blessing, they will receive it. However, I remain convinced that the actual sealing ordinance will still be performed for them in a temple.

In other words, nobody can receive the blessings of the highest degree of the celestial kingdom without receiving this ordinance either in person or by proxy. There is no other way. That is a basic tenet of our doctrine and is unique to our LDS theology. The Lord said there is no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven. That is an earthly ordinance.

Promised blessings are conditional

What about those who were sealed to a spouse who proved unfaithful? We know from D&C 132 that unless the marriage is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise that it is not valid. In other words, there are two parts to the marriage – the sealing ordinance by the authority of the priesthood and our part – worthiness and faithfulness to each other.

If we remain worthy and faithful, even if divorced, we will inherit the blessings of the sealing ordinance. We have been taught that the wife does not have to come forth to a husband that she does not love when she is called up to the resurrection. The important thing is that she received the sealing ordinance in this life or had it performed for her.

The same applies to the husband. If he is worthy and faithful, yet his wife decides that she no longer believes and does not live up to her part, he does not have to call her forth to be his wife in the resurrection. Whether they divorced or not is immaterial. My point is that it is a requirement to receive the sealing ordinance and to remain true and faithful.

Summary and conclusion

I feel the need to reiterate here that I am not speaking on behalf of the church. I believe that what I have written is doctrinally correct but I am open to correction. Some of what I have written in the last section is what I have been taught over the years in priesthood and Sunday school lessons. It is also an accurate summary of my own personal study.

Back to my statements in the opening section – I have no desire to offend. If I come across as too dogmatic or authoritative, please forgive me. I am not a church authority and am simply trying to express my understanding of what I consider to be an incredibly important doctrine. The sealing ordinance is something I cherish and want to understand.

And yes, I still maintain that we as a Church have so much more to offer the world. This doctrine of temple marriage and the sealing authority of the priesthood is the best example of what we can offer that nobody else can. The Lord has revealed that it is a requirement for exaltation and that is what we are striving for. We teach the ideals in this church.


S.Faux said…
In a reflective essay I wrote on my son's temple marriage, I have a small discussion going with a former LDS fellow, now a converted protestant. He offers an interesting perspective, but then concludes that he looks forwarded to being in heaven with his wife, not as a wife, but as a sister in Christ.

Is this life just a meaningless ordeal? Jesus said in the following verse: Do NOT separate what God has put together.

Mark 10:5-9
5 And Jesus answered ...
6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
9 What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

I respect earthly marriages, LDS and non-LDS, enough to believe that these marriages prepare us for life in the eternities, as long as we will come to recognize the power of God to seal those marriages for all eternity. Such recognition involves submitting to the ordinance work done in the temple.

And, yes, as you suggest the entire system is fair. The opportunity is made available to ALL. But, we have the choice to accept or reject. If we husbands are content with being a mere "brother" to our former earthly wives for all eternity, then that is all that will happen. Fortunately, LDS theology sees much deeper into the issue. To me, temple marriage offers a MUCH deeper meaning to my entire existence than I could otherwise imagine obtaining from some another theological system that provides nothing other than eternal divorce.
Anonymous said…
What most people do not realize as part of the plan of salvation is that we must have a line of family connecting us together through the selaing in order to be saved. The word "family" and "salvation" are inseperable in order to be saved from hell. If we are saved, we are saved into the family that we have chosen to be with. After death, even eternally married couples will still be able to choose who they want to be with.

My mother died a few years back and appeared to my sister in a dream and told her that she wasn't happy with how we treat our father because she had decided to choose him and that she was working on making that possible. This is all in light that both my parents were married eternally in the temple and both have lived up to their covenant.

We will find as we proceed through eternity that ultimately we will all be married in heaven as their can be no true eternal salvation outside of the marriage covenant- that is my own doctrine, but it is one that I firmly believe in!

As we proceed throughout eternity and strive to become more and more godlike we will find that marriage is absolutely the first and most powerful essential criteria for our destiny and purpose in the universe. A single person in eternity will bve the soul who eventually at some point rejects all that god offers him.

There will come a time when the "law of eternal marriage" will be re-established amongst gods children as part of the saving ordinances required. Right now it is not a required part of our law because of the many diseases and frailities of mankind preventing some from fulfilling the law.

Section 132 hints around entering into the law of marriage in order to be saved. In time we will find that it is absolutely essential to be married in order to be saved. As our bodies are perfected in the resurrection, our true passions and desires will then measure up to the fulfillment of our purpose in creation. The desire to be wed for the saved will be the underlying physical quality we will possess. we will find that it is perfectly natural and our destiny to be married in eternity!
Rich G. said…

Have you read Parley P. Pratt's Key to the Science of Theology? The last chapter comments on that verse in the Bible about "no marrying or giving in marriage in heaven." Considering the context of Jesus' statement, together with Pratt's take on the subject, may yield some interesting insight. If you take it further, and consider that David's wives were given to another, you may find even more food for thought. Personally, I don't know enough at this point to take a stand on any one point. But I do think God will extend to his children every bit of mercy that justice will allow. He will be as generous as he can, as you have pointed out.

I like the idea in section 137, that if we don't have certain opportunities in this life, and would have embraced them had we been given the chance, we will be given those opportunities in the hereafter. The worst thing that can happen for an individual is to be given opportunities in this life and to consciously choose otherwise. They will be granted what they were willing to receive, but no more.

Finally, it is incumbent upon those of us who understand, to some extent, the difference between a true eternal marriage and mere coexistence in the same heavenly location to explain those differences in meaningful ways that people can understand. I think you've done a superb job here.
Tim Malone said…
Thanks S Faux, anonymous and Rich,

No, I am not content to just be a brother to my sweet Carol in the eternities. I want her to be my wife forever, in every sense of the word. She tells me she feels the same way and I believe her. The temple sealing ordinance gives me the hope and faith that we can have claim on each other to continue that relationship forever.

Anonymous: What you have shared is profound. I would like to read more about your views on the subject, the subset which you have presented here are perfectly in line with what I have been taught and believe. Do you have a blog or a website? Thank you for adding to my essay on the temple sealing. It is becoming more and more appreciated by me each day that I enjoy with my sweetheart.

Rich G: I have read Parley P. Pratt's, Key to the Science to Theology. I was so enamored with it at an early age that I tried to use it as a supplementary text in a Sunday School class I taught just before my mission. The teenagers were not much younger than me and did not appreciate the depth and flower of Elder Pratt's language. Alas, I quickly dropped it and stuck to the approved curriculum.

I know that we believe and teach that worthy women and men who have received the sealing ordinance but whose companions do no live worth of the blessings will have the opportunity to be joined with another. I am certain choice will be involved in the matter. I do not believe a woman who is given to another will not be allowed to choose to whom she is given.

I may not have made the point of my essay clear. The sealing ordinance is an earthly ordinance that must be performed in mortality. If one does not receive it here, it must be performed by proxy for them by someone who is mortal. I do believe that there will be many who are given to another in marriage in heaven, but the actual sealing ordinance must have been performed previously here in mortality or by proxy.

Just as we teach that those in the spirit world cannot progress without baptism, priesthood and the endowment, they also cannot receive the highest blessings that our Father offers without the actual sealing ordinance being performed here by someone for them. That is my understanding of the Savior's statement that there is neither marrying or giving of marriage in the heavens. I believe he was referring to the earthly ordinance only.

By the way, I like your new blog and am enjoying your stories. Your skill in writing leads me to believe that perhaps you are employed in the publishing profession in some way. I will add your blog to my list of those that I read regularly. It is growing long and takes me over an hour just to read them each morning - more if I add comments.
Evgenii said…
Nice post Tim.

I think what Denae missed the boat on, and what you clarify nicely, is the necessity to humble ourselves to accept the commandments, i.e. receive necessary ordinances. The same argument that she makes about temple sealings could easily be used about baptism (I believe in Jesus and follow him, I don't think a simple dip in the pool will keep me out).

Was this not the difference between those who are Celestial and those who are Terrestrial in D&C 76? The Terrerstrial were believers in Jesus and were good people, but did not accept the new and everlasting covenant (vs. 101 I think). So I guess it just comes down to obedience, sometimes it doesn't make sense (just look at the brazen serpant and live) but it shows humility and that's what God is after.
Rich G. said…
Thanks Tim. I've added your blog to my site as well. I really like your approach to sharing your beliefs about the Gospel.
Anonymous said…
I understand your point of view and I almost share it to some extent.
The thing about Danae is that "the fair chance" given to everyone is not just about having an opportunity to get married and making "the right choice". If her husband does not understand the point of being married for all eternities why should she jeopardize her marriage? Marriage is about being sealed, this is true. But it is also about learning and growing. Should she give up this opportunity because he won't become a member and be married in the temple?

As far as ordinances being perfomed on Earth and by proxy if the physical bodies are not available anymore what about the women who did not get a chance to get married on Earth in this life but who will be worthy of exaltation?

Now, one thing that is a fact and which is the only reason why I want to get married (beside the commandment thing) is that we are not sealed to a man, we are sealed to the power of God through a man. This is a link that sounds pretty important if I try to read between the lines. It is not a male supremacy thing. It sounds to me more like a partnership. One is given the job of making the link good and strong, the other one is given the job to bring more spirits to join the link and they both assist each other in each other's prime duty. It is not a superiority fight and should never be this way. Although some take it this way.
The thing is that if Danae has not understood it then she has not truly rejected it (from my point of view). I think that there are many people in the same situation.
I don't belive that God will have a problem with it and will deny them the blessing of being sealed since I believe (I could be wrong) that this ordinace will still be performed in some cases such as the one I have stated before.
I could be wrong and if I am I hope that I will understand things better quickly because I think it is pretty important to be sure about it.
And yes, I do believe that she will have "classes" to take to understand what was the point of being married in the temple ON earth!

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