On the way to the temple, about 15 or so years ago, two friends, engaged to marry, found themselves preparing to make the eternal covenant in the San Diego Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They loved each other, and were travelling together without any other person on a three to four-day drive!
That's what was thinking. Surprise, a baby coming!
They stopped along the way, and married each other. Being young and in love made it so they could not resist touching each other. Rather than offend God with premarital intimacy, they married legally.
Unfortunately, their marriage in the temple would have to wait a year under, then marriage policy in the Church.
Today, May 6, 2019, the leaders of the church, the first presidency announced a change!
"The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday that a civil marriage between a man and a woman will no longer necessitate waiting a year for that couple to be married (or sealed) in a temple. The change means Latter-day Saint couples can look forward to a temple marriage as soon as their circumstances permit."
Courtesy of Church News
Why does that matter? It is a foundational belief among Saints that families are to be eternal according to our understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When Jesus gave the power to His disciples to seal things on Earth and in heaven, marriage was one of the things that could be perpetuated beyond death for the righteous. The love from a couple's relationship through the power of Jesus Christ can last for eternity in the heavens.
God gave the power to a prophet by the name of Nephi in the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, a book that we have through the ministrations of Moroni.
"Behold," Spoke Jehovah to Nephi. "I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people." Helaman 10:7
What God gave to that man was the power to bind things together or remove a binding in mortal life, or eternal life in the heavens with God. This same power gave Jesus to Peter during his mortal ministry.
The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection, but knowing that Jesus preached such a thing, they tried to lure Him into a trap by putting what they thought would be riddle before Him regarding the impropriety of believing in a physical resurrections.
"Master," came these men hoping to cross Jesus. "Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother."
Before Him they brought the Law of Progeny, which was not a common practice among Jewry much at that time. However, stumping Him on the issue would fulfill their purpose, which was to expose the impropriety of believing in a resurrection of the body.
"Now there were with us seven brethren," continued the questioner, "and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother. Likewise, the second also [died, leaving the wife to the next brother], and the third, unto the seventh."
"And last of all the woman died also.," came the triumphant end of the story from the interrogators. "Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.
"Ye do err," Jesus chastens them in answer, "not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven." Matthew 22:24-30
Power of God to Seal
To many, that statement suggest that Jesus intends that family relationships do not exist beyond this life. Further examination proves just the opposite. All scripture must be taken in conjunction to have a full understanding of Christ's teachings.
Of that fictional story perpetuated by the Sadducees to the Savior, the woman had not been in a marriage with any of the seven that was solemnized by a person with the power to seal on earth and in heaven. Since that was the case, none of them would have her. After the resurrection, sealings and marriages do not occur.
The big BUT to this situation is the power that God has to seal those who are still in spirit awaiting a resurrection can still have that work performed for them vicariously in temples.
What does that have to do with the Policy Change Today?
People are more important than policies. It was true back then when the Jewish leaders sought to use the policy of Moses' offering to make sure that a widow is not left without family connections if her husband died without giving her a chance to bare children, the brother had obligation. It is true now for people who marry outside the temple for whatever the reason. They can now go directly to have their union solemnized for eternity.
My wife and I were not able to have either or our parents at our wedding ceremony because we married in the temple. It is true that we exchanged rings afterward before the family who could not attend the solemnization of our marriage. It was not the same.
The policy of waiting a year if we decided to have the wedding outside of the temple made us feel as though we had to choose between God and our families. We chose God. Now, this policy is about doing what the Church teaches about being family-focused and church supported. Family can now take a front seat at the weddings of all Saints, while the higher ordinance of eternal sealing can remain holy and in tact for the lives of the believers.
It no longer makes a mock of the temple marriage to have a public wedding and a temple sealing if a couple decides to do that.