The day I was sealed in the temple was the best day of my life. But it was also the worst. While my parents sat far away in the only room they could enter, I knelt across from my husband and made sacred promises to him and to God. After the sealing ceremony, everyone hugged me as they exited the room. And all I could think was that I didn’t want to be hugging them. I wanted to be hugging my parents.
This is obviously still a very tender topic for me and my family. When I joined the Church in high school, I knew that I was giving up my dreams of a fairytale wedding – the dreams my parents and I had built together. All those years of watching wedding shows and fantasizing about my dad walking me down the aisle – I laid them on the altar of sacrifice. Even at the time, I knew that this would be more difficult for me than for other people. Being the only daughter in a very close family meant that my wedding was not just my sacrifice. It was our sacrifice.
It is still difficult for me to be in the temple, bombarded by memories that are more bitter than I anticipated. But I know that I chose to be sealed in the temple for a reason. I do not regret the choice that I made to be sealed to my husband, but I do think there are things we could have done differently that would have made it easier on me and my family.
I am not sharing this article because I want pity or attention. I am sharing because I want to change the way that we view temple sealings in the Church. Temple sealings are about the sacred promises that are being made. They are not meant to be spectacles or even celebrations. So allow me to offer some advice, depending on your situation. (Obviously, this advice is only from my experiences. Your mileage may vary.)
To LDS Parents With a Temple Recommend
I know that you have been dreaming of your child’s sealing since the moment he or she was born (or at least since you joined the Church). This is an exciting time for you. If all family members on both sides are able to attend the sealing, then there is nothing to worry about. However, if the in-laws are inactive, unworthy, or not members of the church, consider having a conversation with your child and soon-to-be son or daughter-in-law. It may be easier for them and the other family members if the sealing is private. This may mean that only you are invited, or it may mean that the couple attends the sealing alone. For many family members excluded from sealings, the bitterness doesn’t come from not being invited. It comes from feeling like they are second-class to those who are invited and able to attend the ceremony. By making the ceremony a private affair, these feelings can be avoided, easing the transition into married life for the couple and developing positive feelings about the Church for the non-members involved. It may be difficult, but not attending the sealing might be the best wedding gift you can give to the new couple.
To LDS Friends/Family Not Invited
When my husband and I were sealed, I chose not to invite anyone from my side to attend. I did this because I didn’t want my parents to feel like I valued anyone above them. My husband also invited a limited number of people. We made it clear that our sealing was not an open invitation for any person who was able to attend. And we actually had an LDS friend come up to us on a movie date and tell us that she was offended that she had not been invited. I tried to keep my cool as I explained our reasoning, but her rudeness was unjustified and hurtful. You do not have a right to attend someone’s sealing, and if you aren’t invited, just know that the couple has their reasons. You cannot see the entire situation.
To LDS Couples
Don’t be afraid to discuss privacy options with members of your family. This is a difficult topic, and there are a lot of sensitive feelings at this time. The most important thing is that the day is enjoyable for the two of you. You are making important promises to one another and to God, and family/friend attendance is not required for you to do so. Most family members will be understanding of your desires and will respect your wishes. If it is acceptable for some family members to attend only a ring ceremony, it should be acceptable for all family members.
Don’t Ring Ceremonies Solve These Issues?
Now, when I talk to someone about the pain of that day (for me and my family), they say, “but didn’t you have a ring ceremony?” Having a ring ceremony is a nice gesture, but it doesn’t change the fact that the actual marriage ceremony is not shared. It doesn’t change the fact that they don’t get to see the moment when you go from being single to being married. But most importantly, it can never change the feeling that a family member has when they are told that they are unworthy to attend a holy place. This is a definite struggle, particularly for those who are not members of the Church. Many of these people are good, God-fearing people, and it can leave a very bad taste in their mouth that others are able to attend when they are not.
I do believe that having a smaller group of people at our sealing or having no one at our sealing would have made the day better for my parents and for me. I understand that this would have been difficult for my in-laws and for my husband. But I can’t imagine that it would have caused them the amount of pain that the inverse caused to me or my family. I am not saying that this is right for all situations, but if you are feeling uneasy about your temple sealing, don’t hesitate to talk to all parties involved. Find an option that works for you, your soon-to-be spouse, and both of your families.
If you enjoyed this post, you may be interested in these other articles on my blog.
(from the Mormon daughter of a gay man)
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