Monday, March 29, 2010

LDS Temple Marriage and Those Who Don't Attend

I realize 2010 was going to be the year of no religious blog posts but...

I was reading a post by a friend on Facebook who posted this link about a Catholic woman and how she dealt with her son's conversion to Mormonism and subsequent marriage in an LDS temple. It really caused me to reflect on the process and, in particular, my own experience.

LDS marriage ceremonies are conducted in LDS temples where entrance is only granted to those who are members in good standing. Over the years I have seen similar situations amongst friends and acquaintances. Typically, there are a few types of ways that have been implemented over the years to deal with the differing modern family dynamics and LDS traditions, not by the Church but by the participants themselves.

According to the 1989 General Handbook of Instruction, this is what all local Church leaders were to suggest: “Couples may arrange with their bishops to hold a special meeting for relatives and friends who do not have recommends. This meeting provides an opportunity for those who cannot go to the temple to feel involved in the marriage and to learn something of the eternal nature of the marriage covenant. The meeting may include a prayer and special music, followed by the remarks of a priesthood leader. No ceremony should be performed, and no vows should be exchanged.”

This instruction was also widespread: “Though the exchanging of rings is not part of the temple marriage ceremony, rings may appropriately be exchanged at the conclusion of the temple marriage ceremony in the room where that ceremony takes place. To avoid confusion with the marriage ceremony, it is not appropriate to exchange rings at any other time or place in the temple or on the temple grounds.

“A couple may exchange rings in locations other than at the temple. The circumstances should be consistent with the dignity of their temple marriage. The exchange should not appear to replicate any part of the marriage ceremony. For instance, there should be no exchanging of vows on that occasion” (Bulletin, 1989-4, p. 1).

This led to the ever-popular romantic ring exchange during the wedding reception conducted under the raised basketball hoops of the local Church gymnasium. Priceless.

Depending on where you lived determined the varied levels of discouragement you would receive from local ecclesiastical leaders on incorporating "worldly traditions" into your special day. Many were counseled to not to have a ring exchange on temple grounds but to have a simple exchange during the reception. Simultaneously adding the exchanging of vows were generally discouraged since the only vows that mattered were the covenants made at the temple altar. Since the church is run by local leadership, interpretations on what was acceptable would vary and there are myriad of individual stories on what their experiences entailed...all under the umbrella of inspired revelation to the local Priesthood authorities.

Over the years, friends have asked for my advice. Without going into details, most of my responses have been the same. If the groom was a member, with family members who would not be able to attend, I generally told him to 'sack up' and tell them it was his choice and this is how he has decided to get married.

However, when the groom was a member but his soon-to-be wife's family were not members and it was causing them stress, I would tell him that his spouse's happiness and sanity were his #1 priority. Even if they didn't believe in or want a ring ceremony, exchange of vows, etc, I told him he should again just 'sack up' and bite the bullet.

My friend's post today has caused me to think back to my own wedding event. I was less than a year removed from being a missionary, hence more extreme and less moderate in my views and attitude. My wife's family were generational members, no problem there. My side? My mother would be the only attending adult member. What do I tell my father or my four living grand-parents? We had "sacred not secret" talks but truth be told, I was young and selfish and didn't do much more to deal with any possible feelings of exclusion or hurt animosity.

I was the first son. I was the first male grandchild on both sides. I was the first child and grandchild to get married. I am the soon-to-be father of my fourth child. How would I feel as a father to not be able to see my only daughter get married to the man she has chosen as a spouse? My father didn't get to participate. Which is oddly ironic that he has since joined the Church while I have stepped away...

I feel regret and sorrow now. His firstborn son...and he was relegated to sit and wait. My grandparents were excluded. I clearly don't regret my marriage but looking forward, can there be changes implemented that could eliminate future regret?

Knowing that the Church is almost structurally opposed to change, they will NEVER relax the restrictions to allow non-members or "unworthy" groups to enter temples and view the ceremony, so that idea is immediately dismissed.

I propose a few compromises (not that they are keen on those either):

1. Make the temple ceremony simply an "eternal ordinance" and require members to obtain a civil marriage prior to participating in the sealing ordinance. (Admittedly, this is the route I see happening due to the Prop 8 battles. Let couples enter into a civil union for tax and government reasons, then to their churches for religious wedding ceremonies) However, this may be too progressive to implement. If that is the case...

2. Repeal the one year waiting period for those married in civil ceremonies to enter the temple for a sealing ordinance. The LDS social stigma with this route may take a few generations to weed out but then the couples that find themselves in these situations could have a wedding ceremony followed up shortly thereafter with a temple visit.

I really don't see this as much of a serious compromise for the LDS Church, especially considering how they deal with the issue globally. Due to local laws of the land, many countries impose a civil marriage requirement prior to religious marriage ceremonies. In those lands, the LDS Church waives the one year waiting term prior to the temple sealing ceremony. To my knowledge, currently only the United States, Australia, some nations of southern Africa have the one year penalty imposed upon them.

In a Church professing hundreds of thousands of annual convert baptisms, this problem will only get worse before it gets better. Here's to hoping the LDS Church can evolve and progress to a point where families of all varied religions and cultures can jointly experience and celebrate the sanctity of marriage.

Addendum: Upon further reflection, I should also add how upsetting it is now for me that my younger siblings were not able to attend or participate. They were not of appropriate age to even qualify for admission.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Poetry - "Celestial Love"

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Higher far,
Upward, into the pure realm,
Over sun or star,
Over the flickering Dæmon film,
Thou must mount for love,—
Into vision which all form
In one only form dissolves;
In a region where the wheel,
On which all beings ride,
Visibly revolves;
Where the starred eternal worm
Girds the world with bound and term;
Where unlike things are like,
When good and ill,
And joy and moan,
Melt into one.
There Past, Present, Future, shoot
Triple blossoms from one root
Substances at base divided
In their summits are united,
There the holy Essence rolls,
One through separated souls,
And the sunny Aeon sleeps
Folding nature in its deeps,
And every fair and every good
Known in part or known impure
To men below,
In their archetypes endure.

The race of gods,
Or those we erring own,
Are shadows flitting up and down
In the still abodes.
The circles of that sea are laws,
Which publish and which hide the Cause.
Pray for a beam
Out of that sphere
Thee to guide and to redeem.
O what a load
Of care and toil
By lying Use bestowed,
From his shoulders falls, who sees
The true astronomy,
The period of peace!
Counsel which the ages kept,
Shall the well-born soul accept.
As the overhanging trees
Fill the lake with images,
As garment draws the garment's hem
Men their fortunes bring with them;
By right or wrong,
Lands and goods go to the strong;
Property will brutely draw
Still to the proprietor,
Silver to silver creep and wind,
And kind to kind,
Nor less the eternal poles
Of tendency distribute souls.
There need no vows to bind
Whom not each other seek but find.
They give and take no pledge or oath,
Nature is the bond of both.
No prayer persuades, no flattery fawns,
Their noble meanings are their pawns.
Plain and cold is their address,
Power have they for tenderness,
And so thoroughly is known
Each others' purpose by his own,
They can parley without meeting,
Need is none of forms of greeting,
They can well communicate
In their innermost estate;
When each the other shall avoid,
Shall each by each be most enjoyed.
Not with scarfs or perfumed gloves
Do these celebrate their loves,
Not by jewels, feasts, and savors,
Not by ribbons or by favors,
But by the sun-spark on the sea,
And the cloud-shadow on the lea,
The soothing lapse of morn to mirk,
And the cheerful round of work.
Their cords of love so public are,
They intertwine the farthest star.
The throbbing sea, the quaking earth,
Yield sympathy and signs of mirth;
Is none so high, so mean is none,
But feels and seals this union.
Even the tell Furies are appeased,
The good applaud, the lost are eased.

Love's hearts are faithful, but not fond,
Bound for the just, but not beyond;
Not glad, as the low-loving herd,
Of self in others still preferred,
But they have heartily designed
The benefit of broad mankind.
And they serve men austerely,
After their own genius, clearly,
Without a false humility;
For this is love's nobility,
Not to scatter bread and gold,
Goods and raiment bought and sold,
But to hold fast his simple sense,
And speak the speech of innocence,
And with hand, and body, and blood,
To make his bosom-counsel good:
For he that feeds men, serveth few,
He serves all, who dares be true.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Bill - Disappointing But Still Hopeful

Many of you know that I am a supporter of President Obama and the hopefullness behind his "Change You Can Believe In" campaign. However, as we near 24 hours past the historic health care bill that just passed I can't help but feel disappointed.

During his campaign trail, Barack Obama promised to make universal health care a top priority. And he did, sort of. The problem was he had this silly notion about bipartisanship and bringing the country together but ran into a Party of No roadblock.

According to some, there were plans for a universal health care system, similar to Canada, France, England, etc, which is fully comprehensive health care coverage for all citizens. Why was this not done? The Obama Administration was fearful that the GOP would accuse them of a government takeover of the health care industry and leading the country into Socialism.

So they presented this watered down bill hoping to show compromise to their political counterparts who dug in their heels and wished to get 100% of what they wanted or remain at the status quo rather than compromise. I do find it funny that the Repubs cried mightily about the excessive pages of the health care bill, as if one could transform an industry as vast and far-reaching as 1/6th of our economy with a few mere sentences.

Oh wait...that's exactly what they thought. Here is a highly confidential Republican cure all solution to health care reform. Addressed to Rupert Murdoch from the Health Care Industry:

"We the people of the Republican Party, in order to solve the health care woes of the nation, present Bill #outoftouchwithreality.
"Item 1: Open competition with state border limitations.
"Item 2: TORT reform.
"Item 3: Insert the God of Christianity into government. Have faith and pray. Also ensure that our taxes will not pay for anything contrary to our interpretation of Christian morals...except for the things that will get us crazy paid from lobbyists.
"Problem solved. You're welcome America."

But I digress, Obama pandered to this bipartisan mindset and gave up his most prime opportunity to bring the greatest nation in the world up to par with other rich, civilized nations that have all decided that health care is a right and that government has a vested interest into the health and wellbeing of it's citizenry.

I am disappointed that the entire program was not overhauled and scraped. I envisioned an Extreme Health Care Makeover that Ty Pennington would supervise and announce to America with all of the pimped out features. Maybe the day will come when any citizen can simply walk into the local urgent care facility, show their state issued identification card and receive the medical care they need without first having to fill out 15 pages of documentation to demonstrate how you intend to pay for the bill.

All of my disappointment aside, I am happy that we are moving forward as a nation on this. Regardless of how I wanted the actual campaign promise of universal health care for all citizens, I do recognize that this is a step (albeit a small baby step) in the right direction. We stand together in our responsibility towards one another. It is a positive step forward for America and makes us better human beings.

For those who enjoy half truths and propaganda, please visit HERE.
For those of you who actually care about facts, here they are:

1. Republicans: No Republicans voted for the bill
2. Democrats: 34 Democrats voted against the measure
Source: Health care reform: How House members voted –

3. 32 Million: The estimated number of currently uninsured Americans who will receive coverage under the bill
4. $940 billion: The estimated cost of health care reform over the next 10 years
5. $143 billion: The estimated reduction in the deficit from the bill over the next 10 years
6. $53 billion: The portion of the $143 billion in deficit reduction that comes from social security payroll taxes that eventually will be paid out in the form of retirement benefits.
7. $70 billion: The portion of the $143 billion in deficit reduction that comes from premiums to be collected as part of a new government-run, long-term care program for the elderly. These premiums eventually will be paid out in the form of benefits.
8. $88,000: New health insurance subsidies would be provided to families of four making up to $88,000 annually, or 400 percent of the federal poverty level
9. Pre-existing conditions: Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
10. Age 26: Insurers would be required to provide coverage for non-dependent children up to age 26
11. Doughnut Hole: Under current law, Medicare stops covering drug costs after a plan and beneficiary have spent more than $2,830 on prescription drugs. It starts paying again after an individual’s out-of-pocket expenses exceed $4,550. Called the doughnut hole, it will be closed by 2020.
12. 40% Tax: A 40 percent tax would be imposed on insurance companies providing “Cadillac” health plans valued at more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The tax would kick in starting in 2018.
13. 3.8% Medicare Tax: A 3.8% surcharge would be imposed on investment income for individuals making over $200,000 and couples making over $250,000. This tax increase is estimated to bring in $210 billion between 2013 and 2019.
14. $695 or 2.5%: The potential amount of a fine if you fail to purchase health care insurance. Starting in 2016, Individuals would be required to purchase coverage or face a fine of up to $695 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. The plan includes a hardship exemption for poorer Americans.
15. 50 employees: Companies with more than 50 employees would be required to pay a fee of $2,000 per worker if the company does not provide coverage and any of that company’s workers receives federal health care subsidies. The first 30 workers would be subtracted from the payment calculation.
(source: Highlights of health care compromise bill –

16. Abortion: In a deal with conservative Democrats, President Obama will sign an Executive Order “that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion.” The order can be rescinded by President Obama or any future president at any time, for any reason.
(sources: Obama Executive Order on Abortion Funding, What health care reform means for your small business – CNN Money, Checking the Math on Health Care –

17. 0.9%: Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) tax rate would be increased by 0.9 percent, to 2.35 percent.
18. $16 billion: The amount drug manufacturers would pay the US between 2011 and 2019.
19. $47 billion: Health insurers would pay $47 billion over the same period.
20. 2.9% excise tax: Medical device manufacturers would pay a 2.9 percent excise tax on the sale of any of their products beginning January 1, 2013.
21. Tanning Tax: Health care reform establishes a tax of 10 percent on indoor tanning services. This would raise $2.7 billion between 2010 and 2019. As far as we know, getting a tan outside is still free.
22. $132 billion: Government payments to Medicare Advantage would be reduced by $132 billion over 10 years.
(source: Health care reform bill 101: Who will pay for reform? / The Christian Science Monitor –

23. Flexible Spending Accounts: The maximum amount you can set aside pre-tax for health care costs in a flexible spending account will be reduced from $5,000 to $2,500. (source: Obamacare wins: Now the pain begins)

24. 46%: The percentage of Americans in favor of health care reform, according to a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll.
25. 45%: The percentage of Americans against the bill according to the same poll.
26. 36%: The percentage of Americans who think the bill is a “good idea,” according to the same poll.
(source: American Public Divided On Health Care Reform (POLL))

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Utah Doctors and Health Reform...

Thanks Chris for pointing out this great article from the Deseret News. And Scott, no videos today, but don't think my fear mongering days are over...I'm sure I'll post more in the future. Lol...

A few highlights:

Dr. Kim Bateman (Physician):
* "Health care in the U.S. doesn't fail in a clinical way but it fails by making care less and less affordable or completely inaccessible through insurance loopholes like pre-existing conditions, ever-higher deductibles, and co-pays and ever shorter lists of benefits."

* "Lack of insurance doesn't prevent someone from being sick, but lack of it is certainly making people sicker, sometimes fatally...a noticeable and increasing number of patients are coming in with untreated infections, complications from diabetes and asthmas that are the direct result of people not getting basic medical care because they don't have insurance.

Dr. Claudia Fruin, a Bountiful pediatrician and Utah chapter president of the American Academy of Pediatrics:
* "Do we want and can we afford the laid-off father of six who can no longer buy his daughter's growth hormone, the 19-year-old who ignored an infection and had to have surgery and weeks of expensive antibiotics, having 110 people lose insurance every day, the continued bankrupting of Americans unlucky enough to get seriously ill and seriously in debt, the $12,681 in annual insurance premiums for working Utah families, the 1,200 people who died because they didn't have insurance and another 1,200 by 2019 if nothing is done?"

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Is Glenn Beck leaving Mormonism?

So after listening to Glenn Beck declare that you should "run" from your religion if your church website mentions the phrases "social justice" or "economic justice", I began to think...hmmm...I wonder what's on the website?

(Click HERE and skip down to the 12th paragraph)

Who is Glenn Beck's next target?