This is a guest post by IDIAT, who describes himself as “just an old guy who’s been trying to figure out plural sealings for 30 years.”
Consider the example of the young couple, Andy and Amy, who date their last year of high school, but then, as mission time approaches, Andy works and readies himself for his mission, while Amy goes to BYU. Their long distance romance fizzles, Andy leaves on his mission, and Amy is sealed to an RM. Andy returns home, marries a young lady, and continues on with life. Happens every day. But then, Andy and Amy happened to be widowed by the time of their 30th high school reunion, at which point they are re-introduced.
The old flames are fanned. And within 6 months of meeting one another again, they remarry. Of course, because Amy’s previously sealed and living, they can’t be sealed in the temple. But at the relatively young age of about 48, they both have plenty of marriage in mortality time left, so that their marriage endures for another 35 years. Now, to put more spin on the facts. When Amy’s husband died, he left her in such good financial shape that she could live well and provide for their kids. When Andy’s wife died, he also got a sizable amount of life insurance. Andy works until he’s 55, then retires because of all the money they have. Their children are now either finishing college or off missions and some grandchildren have been born to the older children. They spend their time visiting adult children, hosting large family holiday dinners and so forth. Then they make time to start serving missions together, and are both healthy well into their late ’70’s. Then, as they wind down to their early ’80’s, children, grandchildren and now great grandchildren call them blessed. They ask their children to seal them together after the appropriate time has passed. They pass away around age 85, having been married to each other about 35 years. Per their parents’ request, Amy is sealed to Andy vicariously.
Now, is there anyone who would say that Andy and Amy’s remarriage to one another was “immoral” or somehow along the line of breaking the covenants of their first sealings? I doubt it. This is the epitome of a Hallmark Movie Channel movie! The pro-remarriage people will point out all the wonderful blessings that came out of that marriage, the missions, the people served, and so forth. And what about the effect of the second marriages on the feelings of the first spouses? Well, there may be a few people who believe the couple should have stayed widowed till the end. But those opinions are rare. And so, since most of us would be okay with that example, can we really say there is any downside to remarriage? Aside from related problems with children, logistics with finances or places to live and so forth, is there really a good reason not to remarry? After all that I’ve read, I don’t think so. Presuming you are a decent person and your second marriage is to a decent person, there’s no down side at all. Let’s face it. People who have problems in second marriages sometimes marry the wrong people, but no more than people marry the wrong mate on the front end, when they are much younger.
So, my question is: Why don’t we expressly encourage all adults to be married as much of their adult lives as possible? More importantly, what it does it mean to be sealed to more than one spouse? Amy is sealed to Husband 1, Andy’s wife is sealed to him. Then, presuming Andy and Amy “accept” the sealing done vicariously on their behalf, then Amy is sealed to two husbands, and Andy is sealed to two wives. Now what? Here is my shorthand attempt to summarize the church’s position on this issue, using church publications:
Ordinances are physical acts with symbolic meaning. Some ordinances are required for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. These include, among other ordinances, the temple sealing. Living persons receive these ordinances themselves. Deceased persons may receive them vicariously. Vicarious ordinances become effective only when the deceased persons for whom the ordinance is performed accept them in the spirit world and honor the related covenants. Handbook 2, 2.1.2 All ordinances are accompanied by covenants. Covenants are sacred and enduring promises between God and His children. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and His children agree to comply with those conditions. Handbook 2, 2.1.2 Ensign July 2012 “Understanding Our Covenants with God” In “Eternal Marriage” Student Manual, Religion 234 and 235 the Eternal Marriage Student Manual from 2003, page 46, there is a a chart of Celestial Marriage “Covenants We Make With God”. First, it should be noted that these covenants are covenants we make with God, not with our spouse. It says “Couples who promise to abide the law of celestial marriage:
Covenant in pure love to remain faithful to each other and to God through all eternity.
Covenant to confine their intimate affections and sexual relations to each other.
Commit to live in ways that contribute to happy and successful family life.
Covenant “to ‘be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth….”
Marriages are intended to last forever, not just for our mortal lives. ..All Heavenly Father’s children who are faithful to their covenants in this life will have the opportunity to receive all the blessings of the gospel in the eternities, including the opportunity to have an eternal family. Gospel Principles Manual Ch. 38; Ensign September 2011 “What We Believe – The Sealing Ordinances Links Families Eternally” Families can be together forever. To enjoy this blessing we must be married in the temple. When people are married outside the temple, the marriage ends when one of the partners dies. When we are married in the temple by the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, we are married for time and eternity. If we keep our covenants with the Lord, our families will be united eternally as husband, wife and children. Death cannot separate us. Gospel Principles Manual, Ch. 36 The ordinance of sealing is the method whereby marriages are made eternal. In order to be effective, it must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Handbook 1; Ensign December 2011 The basic sealing policies consist of the following:
Men and women may remarry upon the death of their spouse.
Living men can be sealed to more than one women.
Living women can’t be sealed to more than one man.
A deceased man may be sealed to all the wives he had in mortality.
A deceased woman may be sealed to all husbands she had in mortality. However, if a deceased woman was sealed to a husband while living she may not be sealed until all her husbands she had in mortality have died.
Handbook 1; Sealing help information on FamilySearch
Summary: First, sealing is considered a saving ordinance necessary for exaltation. Second, God sets the conditions of the sealing ordinance. People can not impose their own conditions. To be effective, parties to the sealing ordinance must honor the covenants associated with the sealing ordinance. If the sealing ordinance is performed by proper priesthood authority, the only way to “break” the sealing is if one or both of the parties fail to honor their covenants. If the sealing is done vicariously, the parties must accept the ordinance performed on their behalf and keep the associated covenants in order for the sealing to be effective. However, if we keep our covenant, our families will be united eternally. I know of no exceptions or conditions to this statement. There is no limit on the number of times a person may be sealed. Because men and women may remarry upon the death of their spouse, and because we allow men and women to be sealed either while living or by proxy to all spouses they had in mortality, then, presuming the parties honor their covenants and otherwise accept the sealings performed vicariously on their behalf, it means plural sealings will exist. There is no language in church publications that indicate a person sealed to plural spouses will have to “choose” one of them.
What do you think? Opinions are welcome, but if you can, please cite a relatively modern day official church publication to support your position.