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First Presidency announces changes to civil marriage policy

The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced a policy change that will now allow members to be sealed in their temples without waiting after a civil ceremony. PHOTO: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2019 BY INTELLECTUAL RESERVE, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

SALT LAKE CITY — The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a policy update that means couples who are married civilly can now be sealed in the temple immediately, rather than having to wait.

The church says the change comes to set a single global standard for Latter-day Saints around the world.

“The Church has observed this practice for many years in more than half of the countries where the worldwide faith resides,” church officials said in a statement released Monday. “In those countries, couples are required by law to marry civilly first.”

Members of the church believe that a temple sealing or a temple marriage seals families together for eternity; as a result, it is a core tenant of their beliefs.

In a letter to members, the First Presidency says the emphasis should still be to encourage couples to be sealed and civilly married in the temple whenever possible, but adds, “Where a licensed marriage is not permitted in the temple, or when a temple marriage would cause parents or immediate family members to feel excluded, a civil ceremony followed by a temple sealing is authorized.”

“This change in policy should not be interpreted as lessening the emphasis on the temple sealing,” the First Presidency continued. “The sealing of a husband and wife in the temple is of eternal significance and a crowning experience on the covenant path.”

The statement goes on to say those civil ceremonies should be simple and dignified with the focus being on the temple sealing.

The change does not affect new members who were baptized into the faith within the year, who will still need to wait a year before they are eligible to enter the temple and participate in the religious ceremonies inside.

The church released a Q & A that can be found here.

Members reacted positively Monday to the announcement.

“When my husband David and I got engaged we knew that we would one day be sealed. We thought we would have to wait until November to be sealed. We are overjoyed that this policy has changed at exactly the right time in our lives! As soon as Temple classes are done, it’s 6 months down and Eternity to go!” said DayNa Cooley, from Tooele.

“I feel like the Brethren are so inspired. They know what is needed and what is good not just for Church members, but for people in general,” said Natalie Musgrove of Centerville, Utah, who celebrated her 36th wedding anniversary Monday. She and her husband were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple, and she says none of her family members were there to witness it because she is a convert to the church.

Melissa Richardson is originally from Utah but her family now lives in Maryland on assignment for the military. She says her husband is Southern Baptist, and they have often talked about what will happen when their daughters are old enough to get married.

“I’ve never viewed it as a choice of, you can’t do one or the other; it’s worth waiting a year if it means your father can be there. And now they don’t have to wait a year,” said Richardson.