Updated: Jul 24, 2019
In March of 2019, my daughter got married in the Las Vegas temple while I had the pleasure of babysitting my other siblings' kids outside in the courtyard while they witnessed the wedding inside with other family and friends. Few experiences in my life have stung so painfully.
When I think a situation is complete BS, I'm not one to just sit back and let it slide. I felt compelled to make my displeasure of the situation known. And no, it would not suffice to simply complain to my bishop or stake president. No, the fault of this injustice lay squarely at the feet of the highest levels of the church.
I wrote a letter and sent it to church headquarters in SLC along with a copy of the letter I wrote for my family/friends I shared on this website. I had done my part. Now the onus was on them. My letter detailed my frustration at the policy of excluding family and friends from the wedding ceremony in the temple. For a church that claims to be all about families, the temple just rips them apart.
I sent this letter a few days after my daughter got married. Then on May 6, 2019, just a few months later, the church announced a change to their policy of having to wait a year to marry in the temple if a couple is married civilly first.
I don't know if my story/letter was the straw that broke the camel's back in regards to this issue. After all, there have been thousands of families separated during the wedding just like I was over the years. I like to think that my letter had something to do with the change. It makes me feel a little better about babysitting instead of witnessing the most important moment of my daughter's life. So if taking one for the team was instrumental in getting that ridiculous policy changed... You're Welcome!
Here's a copy of what I wrote in that letter:
To President Nelson, the Quorum of the 12, and anyone else involved with policymaking for the church,
I have been a member of the church for 45 years. Like Nephi, I was born into the church from “goodly parents” and have lived the Mormon path my entire life. I am an Eagle Scout, served a mission to Ohio, married in the temple, and have raised my children in the faith. I have been a temple recommend-holding member of the church ever since my mission. In two weeks, my oldest daughter is getting married in the Las Vegas temple. I have determined that on that same day I will submit my resignation of my church membership.
I have written a letter/essay that I plan on sharing with my immediate family and anyone else who is wondering why I am leaving the church. I doubt that any of you have the time or care to read about my personal story and reasons, but I am sharing it just the same. Feel free to do with it as you wish. My hope is that if you do take the time to involve yourself, some progress can be made to a painful and difficult situation…
I have witnessed many changes to the church over my lifetime. Some may argue that these changes are a direct result of outward pressure. Others may submit that the method for these revealed changes comes after problems are highlighted and subsequently pondered over and then taken to the Lord. Whatever the method, I am highlighting a problem that I hope you will consider. I cannot be in the temple for my daughter’s wedding. This is not because I am not “worthy”. It is because I refuse to lie during the recommend interview purely for the sake of renewing a recommend for a faith that I no longer believe in.
I am well aware of the previous section 101 of the D&C that addressed how marriage was to be treated in the church. I am aware of the history surrounding it and why it was replaced. I am also aware of how various countries don’t recognize a temple wedding, thereby requiring a separate marriage outside the temple with a later temple sealing. There are obviously multiple ways of handling a marriage that do not need to be so divisive and painful for so many different familial situations.
Both of my parents are converts to the church. They met after they independently left their immediate family in New York and West Virginia respectively to attend BYU. When they got married, they did so in the Manti temple, completely absent from any familial support and witness. Why would their family travel such a long distance if they weren’t even allowed to attend?
I ask you, was this the best way for them to start their marriage? Is this a good way for extended family to be introduced to the church? Is this a good way for the world to view the church? Is this the best way this situation can be handled? Does the Lord want to divide families in this manner? Is the temple wedding doctrinal, or is the sealing the important thing here? Does it make sense to make my daughter wait a year to be sealed here in the United States if she were to be married in a separate ceremony when she wouldn’t have to wait at all if she were married in a different country that doesn’t recognize a temple wedding? Don’t you think marriage is difficult and stressful enough without the backing and support of family? Don’t you think there is leeway and common sense to be employed with differing backgrounds and situations? Don’t you think younger siblings would want to witness such a monumental event? Don’t you think there is unnecessary pain directly at the hands of the church in these instances? How do you think a revelation to allow separate marriage ceremonies for all family members to witness would be received by the church? I would submit that it would be overwhelmingly positive!
My decision to leave the church has little to do with the policy regarding temple marriage. However, it is something that I believe deserves to be addressed. The church is doing a lot of things right. It is also doing a lot of things wrong that inflict unnecessary pain. Just like the policy of denying Blacks the Priesthood was determined to be in error, I believe the policy surrounding temple marriages is in error as well. And, yes, I believe it is a policy, not a doctrine. Perhaps the distinction between the two can be taken to the Lord as well.
I am grateful for the influence of the church in my life. I believe there are many good things being taught from it. I am giving you the benefit of the doubt for doing the best you know how with regards to the operation of it. Thank you for your time and consideration to this matter. I wish you the wisdom of Solomon as you continue in your responsibilities. Sincerely,