Traditionally, in the Church legal marriage and eternal sealing are performed in the temple, in the same ceremony. Alternatively, a couple can civilly marry outside the temple before being sealed in the temple in a separate ceremony after any amount of time. Would the sealing in the second also be considered/called an eternal marriage in God’s/the Church’s eyes? Or just a sealing?
This may seem like hair splitting but it is of personal significance to me.
Yes, it is splitting hairs. But I can understand why it would be important to you.
Simply put, a civil marriage IS A MARRIAGE in the eyes of God. It simply isn’t an “eternal” marriage.
13 And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.
14 For whatsoever things remain are by me; and whatsoever things are not by me shall be shaken and destroyed.
15 Therefore, if a man marry him a wife in the world, and he marry her not by me nor by my word, and he covenant with her so long as he is in the world and she with him, their covenant and marriage are not of force when they are dead, and when they are out of the world; therefore, they are not bound by any law when they are out of the world. (D&C 132:13-15)
The sealing in such an instance as you describe would do two things:
- It changes the civil marriage from “till death do us part” to “time and all eternity.”
- It bestows blessings of sealing upon us. Those blessings will be discovered in the temple of the Lord.
I realize you’re probably in a situation where you want to get married right away and are impatient to wait for the temples to open. To address that, I’ll point out two important points.
THE POWER OF SEALING
The sealing power really does mean something. I, myself, have witnessed what sealing really does and I can’t explain it as if from any earthly cause. There is an old saying (supposedly spoken by a general authority) that says something very true — whether actually quoted by a general authority or not:
The difference between a temple marriage and a civil marriage is the difference between the sun and the moon.
Too often, people take this to mean that the difference is only in eternity. While it certainly makes a big difference in eternity, it also makes a big difference in earthly life as well. And that difference (as we abide by our covenants) makes our marriage AND our family as different as the sun and the moon, right here on earth.
WAITING TIME BETWEEN CIVIL AND TEMPLE MARRIAGE
As of last year, the waiting period has been eliminated.
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. Church Newsroom 6 May 2019
This set a new global standard. But this shouldn’t just give a blanket encouragement for anyone and everyone to “just go ahead.”
Where possible, leaders should encourage couples to be both married and sealed in the temple.
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 sealing of a husband and wife in the temple is of eternal significance and a crowning experience on the covenant path. Official Letter from the First Presidency; 6 May 2019
So, if at all possible, I’d encourage you to wait as long as you can for your local temple to re-open if it hasn’t already. But if you prayerfully decide you can’t, talk to your bishop about the letter I cited above, and see if he has any counsel to give you.