The promise of eternal families through temple marriage is at the very core of Mormon doctrine. Temple marriage brings with it the hope of the highest kingdom of heaven, and is accompanied by promises of earthly blessings brought by a marriage sealed in the temple. Despite all of this importance, and the prominence of temple marriage in Mormon culture, I have made the decision that I will never be married in the temple.
This decision isn’t a rejection of LDS beliefs, rather it is a decision that has evolved out of realizations that in my life the temple will never be a comfort to me like church leaders have promised. I reject the notion that this life is to be lived with a one-size-fits-all approach, which is why I’m not ashamed of making decision that will be the best for me – regardless of how blasphemous it seems.
My initial discomfort surrounding temple marriage was born out of temporal concerns. I could not imagine excluding my immediate family from the actual marriage portion of my wedding day. On a day that is traditionally celebrated with family and friends, it would feel cruel and wrong to leave my own father sitting outside of the temple unable to witness the marriage of his daughter. I realized as a young teen that when church leaders spoke of families being together forever (and in the temple) they meant a very certain type of family- a type of family that my family didn’t match. This brought on anxiety and frustration whenever the temple was brought up, as the things being taught would never apply to my family.
As a Laurel I was asked by my Young Women’s leaders to pick out several items for a wedding timecapsule: a picture of my dream dress, dream ring, and the temple that I wanted to get married in. Printing off pictures of wedding dresses and diamond rings seemed like a silly activity, but it wasn’t until I got to choosing the temple that I stopped in my tracks. I was uncomfortable with imagining a wedding day that would be secret from my friends and family (a wedding ceremony that at the time I had never been taught the details of.) My sweet leaders were so focused on making the activity perfect for each girl that they spent a considerable amount of time trying to help me decide which temple I would like to put into my time capsule. What I didn’t tell them was that it didn’t matter which temple they put in my time capsule, I didn’t plan on getting married there anyway.
As an adult my concerns with the temple evolved and became spiritual. Because the temple is treated with such secrecy I had no idea what actually happened inside those white walls. Upon seeing that the images I had in my mind were nothing like the reality of the temple, I felt betrayed. I had been misled and felt lied to. So many things I knew about Christ and my Heavenly Parents seemed to fly in the face of these sacred ordinances. I had never been taught to worship a sexist God, yet the temple rituals are sexist. For the purpose of this post I will omit these details, however for an excellent overview of how the temple is sexist I recommend reading this article. Suddenly, the same event I had been so sad to exclude my family from became an exchange that I wanted nothing to do with.
I will never speak wedding vows that will not be returned to me with the same promises and commitments. I will never covenant to a spouse who is unable to covenant to me. I would never dream of entering into a marriage that is formed on sexist foundations. To make such a one-sided commitment would be to betray myself. To enter into such an ordinance would be submitting myself as a participant of the systematic oppression that haunts women in the LDS Church.
I deeply respect my feminist sisters who have found peace in the temple, and those who cherish their temple sealing. In no way do I mean to belittle them or deny them of their spiritual experiences. I simply cannot enter into a temple marriage knowing what I know, and I have chosen to speak out about the reasons instead of remaining silent.