Hey, I live in México and I was planning on getting married in October 2020 but then the pandemic happened and we are all still in quarantine. For this reason, all of the temples are closed and the only one that’s open doesn’t accept foreign people and is still in stage 1 and in risk of closing. So the question is, is it a sin if my boyfriend and I get married civilly and then wait for the temples to be opened? Would it be a sin if we have a civil marriage and live together?
Congratulations on your engagement! The pandemic sure has changed a lot of plans.
It is not a sin to be married civilly before being sealed in the temple. We know how important being sealed to our spouse is, so ideally, we want to marry and be sealed in the temple. That ideal is not always possible. For instance, some countries around the world have a law requiring people to be married at a courthouse and then the couple goes to be sealed in the temple as soon as possible.
If a couple chose to live together without being married, that would be a sin against the law of chastity.
Last year, the First Presidency sent out a letter about the policy of being married civilly and then being sealed in the temple. Here is part of the explanation of the letter from the Church News.
“We affirm that the sealing of a man and woman in the temple offers eternal blessings to the couple and their posterity that can be gained in no other way,” wrote the First Presidency in the letter to general and local leaders. “We encourage all such couples to qualify for sealing ordinances and blessings. … The sealing of a husband and wife in the temple is of eternal significance and a crowning experience on the covenant path,” the First Presidency wrote.
In the letter, the First Presidency asks local leaders to encourage couples, where possible, 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 marriage followed by a temple sealing is authorized,” wrote the First Presidency in the letter. …
According to the First Presidency, a civil marriage ceremony performed for a couple being sealed in the temple should be “simple and dignified.” Couples may use chapels owned by the Church for these ceremonies. Members should understand the “importance and sanctity of the temple sealing so that the sealing is the central focus of the marriage and provides the spiritual basis on which the couple begins their life together,” wrote the First Presidency.
In the early days of the Church, civil marriage and temple sealing were separate. Once Latter-day Saints settled in Utah, Church leaders had the authority to perform both at the same time.
There is no specific time within which members should be sealed after being married civilly, according to the letter and accompanying information. “Priesthood leaders interview couples and provide temple recommends when the couple is both worthy and ready to be sealed in the temple. Worthy and prepared couples may be sealed as soon as circumstances permit.”
Temples closing because of the pandemic definitely creates a situation where marriage is not permitted in the temple. If you choose to be married civilly before you’re able to be sealed in the temple, plan to be sealed when the temple is available for you to do so. The above letter mentions that chapels can be used for a civil wedding. Because of the pandemic, check with your bishop to see if your chapel can be used currently.
Wishing you the very best as you begin your lives together,