Guest post: Fanning old flames and plural sealings in the temple

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.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

29 thoughts on “Guest post: Fanning old flames and plural sealings in the temple

  1. I greatly admired a friend who married a woman not in the temple, because she wanted to stay sealed to her deceased husband that she had children with. So my friend stepped in as “husband and daddy for mortality only”, which means he may never be sealed in this life to his wife.
    When asked about how that will all work out, and “don’t you worry about not being sealed to these kids you are raising”, he responds: “I’m pretty sure God is a smart guy, he can work it all out. He knows my heart, and there will be plenty of time to find a good solution.”
    Good answer.

    Throw in there the fact that Joseph Smith was sealed to women who were sealed to other worthy men, and I definitely don’t get the impression that sealing is meant to define your monogamous relationships for eternity. It’s a way of linking people together, of creating a great chain. It’s not like we’re all kept in separate rooms in heaven.

  2. I agree with Jenn and would add that there appear to be many things we simply don’t understand about eternal marriage and sealings. Why can living women be sealed to only one man and men more than one woman? I just add this to the long, long list of “things I don’t understand.”

  3. Sadly enough, it is not really true that women cannot be sealed to more than one man. Just restricted to one at a time. What women have to do now is discard the current sealing in favor of a today’s more favored spouse. They tell the sad story of “abusive husband” to their current bishop to importune for a “cancellation of sealing”. Effectively it amounts to serial polygamy. My ex procured such a “temple divorce” specifically for the purpose of circumventing this apparently outdated rule.

    Not that I am unhappy about being dumped for a better guy. My perception is that temple sealing is meaningless anyway, absent the consent and willing participation of those that have been sealed. People still have their agency. I would not willingly choose to waste anything more pursuing a supposedly “eternal” partner who so manifestly cannot stand me now.

    The temporary arrangement was fine while it lasted, but twenty years of “eternal” bliss was apparently long enough for her to decide that she no longer had any use for lasting marriage covenants. This is apparently today’s popular trend that follows the compromise and decline of traditional marriage.

  4. I’ll throw in another complication: I have a sister-in-law who has struggled for years ot have kids. We figured it was a given that if we died, she was the best candidate to raise our children- she’d be a great mom to them and has the resources to raise them. We (probably insensitively) figured this would be a welcome proposition, but it was received with obligation/duty at best: she would be willing to raise our children and love them and all that, the same as any of our siblings, but “if she couldn’t be sealed to them, it wouldn’t be the same, they’d never really be like her kids”. One could suppose she is sealed to them as an aunt, since she is sealed through her parents to her brother (my husband and father of our kids).
    Likewise, my mom had to jump through all sorts of hoops to get her ex-husband’s permission for my father to be sealed to my half-brothers (who he raised from infancy). Joseph Smith regularly “adopted children” through sealing- even children with worthy, living parents.

    Children can only be sealed to one set of parents, so just how significant is it who they are sealed to?

  5. It is my view, based on a letter form the Genealogical division of the LDS Church, written in 1976, that women, who are sealed to one person during their lifetime and were divorced but did not undo the sealing remain sealed throughout eternity. If others desire to seal her to a second man it can be done, but it is not considered valid beyond this life.

    I believe that most of what has happened since that time has been done to please people who are living. It makes them feel better. It made me feel better to find I was not necessarily sealed to my great-grandmother’s second husband. I expect his children who have had her sealed to him feel good believing that they are not sealed to my great-grandfather, her second husband.

  6. I think the multiple sealings of one women to several men troubles more people than does multiple sealings of one man to several women. Thus, I know more people who were offended by Joseph Smith’s having been sealed to already married women than offended by Joseph’s having been sealed to more than one wife. I think when the Sadducees (who disbelieved in the resurrection) posed a version the question posed in the opening post above to Jesus–what about a woman who had been married serially to more than one man–they deliberately chose the multiple husband question rather than the multiple wife question. Matthew 22:22-33. The answer recorded is a bit of a cop out–reporting that there is no marrying or giving in marriage in the resurrection–implying that marriages do not continue after death. But it is a very tough question. Plural marriage–whether of one man to more than one woman, or one woman to more than one man–is an offensive idea to many or probably most people. One of my children tells me that section 132 makes him/her nauseous. I think the only way to address the issue without considering plural marriage is to deny the afterlife or to deny the continuation of marriage is possible. Otherwise, one must address the question the Sadducees posed, can only one marriage continue, and if so, which one? And what about situations, as posed in the post, where it would seem unfair not to allow the first marriage of both AND the second marriage of both to have some effect in the afterlife? I believe that all marriages may be sealed and continue in the hereafter, even if it results in very nontraditional family configurations. That requires a bit of mental compartmentalization, but I believe that it is true.

  7. My 5 cents:

    #1: “Why don’t we expressly encourage all adults to be married as much of their adult lives as possible?”

    I think, for the most part, we do. But this doesn’t mean that we assume that every single such relationship will (or should) persist beyond the grave. Which leads to…

    #2: “Marriages are intended to last forever, not just for our mortal lives.”

    Yes and no. I would say that not all marriages are meant to last forever. Not every enjoyable marriage relationship in this life will (or should) persist in the next. I don’t think, for example, that a woman who was married to 3 husbands will remain married to all three in the next life, and I’m not even convinced that a man who was married to 3 wives will either (although some theories indicate this possibility). Which leads to…

    #3: We have a skewed perspective, particularly in the modern, Western age.

    In our modern, Western age, we romanticize every enjoyable, productive relationship to the point that we believe it is a cruelty to put an expiration date on it. And part of this has been magnified by our own doctrine of eternal marriage. Consider the logic used by some of my friends: “Two men fall madly in love and get married. They adopt and raise children, and remain committed to each other for the rest of their lives. They grow old together, and romantically die in each other’s arms. How could a loving God not let them enjoy their felicity in the next life? How could a loving God ask them to separate as a condition of exhalation?”

    Most of us would respond, “Because exhalation and eternal joy does not require eternal companionship with every mortal being we happen to “fall” in love with (as if there were no agency in love whatsoever). Because eternal joy does not require the perpetuation of every companionate, intimate, spousal obligation we incur while in this world. Some such relationships (such as the example in the previous paragraph) are forbidden by God, while others are meant to be only temporary. We romanticize such relationships to the point that we feel that only a cruel God would forbid or end them, but I think the God we worship can and does do both at times.

    Some have said that we will choose the person we love and enjoy being with the most. But while that is the world’s metric for choosing marriage, I’m not sure that is the heavenly metric. The world teaches us to choose who we happen to love the most (again, as if agency played no part in matters of love). This is why people feel entitled to a divorce if they find themselves more deeply in love with someone other than their spouse. They forget that marriage is about self-sacrifice — literally giving up the needs and desires of the self — for the sake of the other. They forget that in matters of divine marriage, infatuation and this “happenstance” idea of love will and should take a back seat to commitment and self-renunciation.

    #4: “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.”

    I agree that this was not at all immoral, and that many, many lasting blessings arose from it. That’s wonderful! But I disagree that this means that it will or necessarily ought to persist beyond the grave. I have no knowledge whatsoever of what will happen. It very well could. But I think that it is the world’s metric of marriage that says that all “Hallmark” marriages should last forever, just because good came of it and both parties were sincerely edified by it.

    Again, according to the world’s depiction of romance and love, only a “cruel” God would ask the couple to separate and return exclusively to their original spouses. But while God may allow them to stay together, I think that God very well could do just that. Because I think eternal marriage is a call to service outside the self, and serves higher purposes than romance or even love and companionship.

    We are being trained by our Hollywood society to have much higher expectations of marital bliss than I think we should have. Let’s say Person A was widowed, and remarried. Let’s say both spouses were faithful in the first marriage, but it wasn’t as smooth as either party would have liked. There were personality conflicts and disagreements, and it sometimes wasn’t easy or fun. But then one spouse died, and the other remarried to someone with whom he/she got along with much, much better. The second marriage was much easier and more enjoyable than the first. Our Hollywood romanticization of marital companionship has taught us that only a cruel God would ask Person A to return to the first marriage and give up the second marriage. So we assume that Person A will get to “pick” which relationship to pursue in the eternities, and that Person A will choose based on who he “loved” more or “enjoyed” more.

    Again, I don’t think this is necessarily the case. I think that true self-sacrifice, and true redemption through Christ, will lead us to sanctify whatever relationship we find ourselves in. This mentality is what allowed arranged marriages to work so well in many cultures. People saw their task not as “picking the right person,” but as “sanctifying and making holy their spousal relationship, whoever it was with.” So our task is not so much to choose the right spouse (although our modern, Western world allows us that convenience), but to sanctify our spousal relationship (with whomever we choose or is chosen for us). And for that reason, I would consider it no cosmic injustice for Person A to be asked by Heavenly Father to spend eternity with someone that he/she didn’t yet learn to get along or love fully with while in mortality, and to sacrifice a relationship that Person A enjoyed more to do so.

    #5: The morality of remarriage does not ever justify divorce.

    Here’s my final note: There are good reasons to divorce. Among those good reasons are abuse, infidelity, etc. But what I worry is that many people are starting to include “personality conflicts” and “disagreements” and “falling out of love” and “married the wrong person” in those reasons, and none of those are good reasons for divorce. What I worry is that our Hollywood society has raised our expectations of marital bliss so high that we start to assume that unless our marriage is wonderful or enjoyable, we should leave and find one that is.

    Again, this is because our modern age teaches us that a good marriage is about finding the right spouse, rather than sanctifying the existing relationship. And so while remarriage is perfectly moral after death or divorce, we should not think that this justifies leaving a spouse for anything other than the most serious of reasons, nor should we imagine that (if we have to choose) we will get to choose our favorite spouse we spent time with in mortality.

  8. Thanks for the comments. I tried to give church references to what our “doctrine” is today because there are many people who don’t really know our sealing policies. One thing is for sure — policies change. So, while I can’t explain why (and I have looked in every church publication for 30 years) living women can’t be sealed to more than one man, there may come a day when they can. I’m not quite sure why “God’s standard is monogamy” in mortality since it appears if He is going to allow us to be in plural relationships in the hereafter. Perhaps one day we’ll have a revelation on the matter and settle things once and for all.

  9. I think it’s important to remember that in sealings we aren’t held accountable for the covenant that the person we are sealed to has made. So if one person keeps her covenant, but her spouse doesn’t, she isn’t sabotaged from the blessings of her covenant. In other words, we make a covenant that includes another person, but the covenant is moreover between us and the Lord. I suspect there will be a fair amount of rearranging in heaven due to some people wanting to be sealed and some people not caring.

  10. Oh, and also because of the tricky situations that others have mentioned on this thread.

  11. DavidF – good point. I re-read my post and felt I could have stated things differently. Technically, it’s the entering into the sealing that is important. If a spouse doesn’t honor his or her covenants, the other spouse is still entitled to the blessings of the sealing ordinance, in this life as well as the next. I’m a bit surprised no one wanted to tackle the following question: Why do we (the church) condone remarriage at all after the death of a spouse to whom one is sealed? How is that not a breaking of the first two covenants of fidelity and chastity if we believe the predeceased spouse is “alive” in the Spirit World and awaiting a joyful reunion? That’s the $64,000 question and the elephant in the room. Members of other faiths, in theory, shouldn’t struggle with guilt at all because they don’t believe in eternal marriage. But as Saints? I thought we like to think of our predeceased spouses as if they were still alive, just on a foreign mission to preach the gospel! 🙂 Gordon B. Hinckley’s father married 4 women successively, not waiting more than about 10 months or so between them. Is it because he was cold hearted and unfeeling, or did he understand something about marriage and sealings that most of us don’t? Anyway, I wish I had the answer to that question beyond a simple “It’s up to you. Follow the Spirit.” Since only about 8% – 10% of widows/widowers remarry, I can’t tell whether it’s them that are following the spirit, or the other 90% of those who choose not to remarry.

  12. IDIAT, I think the key to understanding your questions has to do with understanding the behavior of some apostles (like Elder Oaks) who lost their wives at an early age and remarried. If it is good enough for them, it should be good enough for all of us. Marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred thing, and it is not good for man (or woman) to be alone while on the Earth.

    When I got divorced, my bishop’s counsel was: “marry a good temple-worthy wife as soon as possible.” His implication was that it is simply not good for a man to be alone — he is likely to get into mischief. I believe Elder Oaks’ dead first wife does not resent him being remarried. How will it all work out in the afterlife? Who knows? One thing that I definitely believe is that in the afterlife some people will not want to stay married to the people they married on Earth, and the Lord will sort that out in a just way.

  13. Here is another situation. My Grandfather’s second wife, Gloria was not sealed to my Grandfather, as she was sealed to her first husband. However, she was part of our family for a long time and after Grandfather passed away, she chose to stay near our family, as she said she felt more loved and cared for by us than by her own children. Gloria also said numerous times, she wanted to be sealed to my Grandfather one day, and all of us are and were happy with that request. Gloria passed away a few years ago, and we still love her and consider her just as much a part of our family as my actual Grandmother, my Grandfather’s first wife. We have no idea how Gloria being sealed to our Grandfather could happen, other than a firm belief that the Lord knows everything, and we have to have faith that he will make it right for everyone in the end. I’ve always felt that we will not be forced to be with someone we don’t want to be with thru eternity and that there will always be things about the temple, the ordinances there and how things will eventually be organized that we just will not understand in this life. I think we have the handbook rules to give the leaders of the church some guidelines and consistency, but that in the end the Lord will decide and the people involved will have the opportunity to say yes or no. It takes a lot of faith to accept that sometimes there is not an answer, or not an answer right now for our questions. The best we can do is to keep the commandments, and be faithful.

  14. This conversation has gotten me thinking. I’ve heard a lot of people say that, barring Celestial polygamy, multiple sealings will be worked out in the next life based on people’s individual desires. That is, we won’t end up sealed to someone we don’t want to be sealed to, and we we’ll basically be allowed to choose the person we love the most (provided they choose us back). There is a lot of fear expressed about being sealed to the spouse you didn’t like, while being forced to relinquish the spouse you did.

    And I think I just figured out one of the underlying elements in these conversations: it’s just one more extension of our societal rejection of arranged marriages. While I love the cultural freedom to choose my spouse, and I even suspect that such freedoms are, in the grand scheme of things, preferred over arranged marriages, I see nothing inherently wrong in the idea of an arranged marriage. That’s because, fundamentally, I think marriage is not about preference, but a call to service. I think marriage is supposed to make us holy, rather than make us “happy” (by most colloquial definitions of the term). And I believe that any two people who repent and set aside sin can sanctify a spousal relationship and find ultimate joy in self-renunciation. And, historically, evidence can probably back up the idea that arranged marriage are just as likely (if not more so) to be successful as elective marriages.

    But nonetheless, our modern, Western culture (even in the Church) chafes against the idea of an arranged marriage—we see it as anti-freedom, anti-agency, etc. We insist sometimes that if we’re going to be with someone for eternity, we’d darn well better be able to choose who that person is. The thought of a Celestial arranged marriage terrifies us, and I think this is where the idea comes from that ultimately, if we must whittle our potential eternal spouses down to one, we’ll get to pick and choose who that person is. We assume that in the heavens, marriage proposals take place the same as on earth in the modern USA: by elective choice, and choice alone.

    What I find interesting is that many plural marriages in early Church days were essentially arranged marriages, somewhat akin to a Church calling. The prophet would sometimes call someone in and say, “We would like you to marry Sister _____,” etc. So while we have no idea if there will be either polygamy or arranged marriages in heaven, the evidence seems equally compelling on either case. While I don’t think anyone will be forced to marry against their will, I actually imagine that there is a strong possibility God might say to some, “Here, marry ____, or remain unmarried,” or “You will be sealed to ____ spouse, and you must relinquish the others, or remain unmarried” So there will certainly be agency involved, but there may not always be the options that we enjoy as a modern luxury.

    And I think this is nothing to fear, because we know that any two people who are genuinely humble and willing to renounce the self and find joy in a selfless communion. So even if a single woman goes to heaven, and is instructed to marry the one person on earth who annoyed her the most, in her Celestial state she will not resent it because Holy beings do not resent, and Holy beings sanctify their relationships, rather than pursue them consumeristicly. Considering that all individuals in the Celestial kingdom will be living a Celestial lifestyle, I imagine that most conflicts, nuisances, and annoyances we experience in mortal life will cease to chafe us in the Celestial realm, and we will find any Celestial being assigned to spend eternity with us worthy of our deepest love, respect, and companionship.

  15. To paraphrase a line that was popular during the 60’s…. “Seal ’em all, and let God sort ’em out.”

  16. For the question to be pertinent we have to know what exactly families are for and what they do I the afterlife. It’s not like we’re destined to sit around with generations of grown up “kids” watching reruns of Gilligans island.

    I was very disturbed anytime I attempted to consider the point and object of eternal relationships in specific detail and often pondered this in and out of the temple. After over a decade of pondering tithe uestions, , studying, and finally stumbling on the right question to ask (And spending yet more time considering that question) I prayed and received the greatest spiritual experience of my life. I’ve never shared the question or the answer with anyone as its not something I would want to open up to argument or debate, since I’m confident in the source and if anyone else wants knowledge I’m not the source they should get it from anyway.

    But these questions of eternity are important and I think can be foundational to our understanding of the plan of salvation. The temple is a great place to ponder and gain insight.

  17. “pondering the question” not tithe questions…. Strange autocorrect

  18. Elder Oaks gave a PBS interview with Helen Whitney back on July 20, 2007, that is found in the Church’s Newsroom website. He states in part:

    HW: There still is some confusion that polygamy is definitively and unequivocally disallowed in this world. What will happen in the next? There is a perception that polygamy is part of the afterlife. Could you talk a little about that?
    DHO: If I talked about that I’d be making doctrinal statements where the prophet has not chosen to make doctrinal statements, so I think I shouldn’t say anything except to affirm that a lot of people, myself included, are in multiple-marriage situations. Look at the significance of that. There are a lot of people that live on this earth that have been married to more than one person. Sometimes those marriages have ended with death; sometimes they’ve ended with divorce. What does the next life mean to them in relation to a covenant they once made and so on? I don’t think those people have much of an answer for that question. It might not bother them because they don’t believe that people will live as married couples in the next life. And if they don’t make and live for the covenants to do that, [as for themselves] they’re right! But for people who live in the belief, as I do, that marriage relations can be for eternity, then you must say, “What will life be in the next life, when you’re married to more than one wife for eternity?” I have to say I don’t know. But I know that I’ve made those covenants, and I believe if I am true to the covenants that the blessing that’s anticipated here will be realized in the next life. How? Why, I don’t know.

    The reason I emphasized the “keeping of covenants” in the OP is that, along with what Elder Oaks said and in accordance with modern day church statements, the bottom line is that if we are true to our covenants, the ordinance of sealing will be binding and effective. And for me, that’s the take away from a study of this issue. Thanks for everyone’s thoughts and insights.

  19. This may come up in my family eventually. Shortly after my mother died, my father remarried to a widow. The ceremony was in the temple for time, as she is still sealed to her first husband. The question may come up, after they are both dead, whether to seal my father and stepmother by proxy. Under current policy that is permissible. I get the feeling from years of experience going through the IGI and FamilySearch that if we don’t seal them, someone else will.

    As for children being sealed to stepparents, or a mother’s previous husband, my main concern for my ancestors is that everyone’s sealed to somebody. It will all be sorted out eventually.

  20. Based on the IGI, there’s also a good chance your father and stepmother will get sealed to random strangers as well. 😉

    I think there will be not only arranged marriages or for-love marriages, but something somewhere in between. In a way, I have an arranged marriage, because my Institute director and his wife had idly played a bit of matchmaker and I later took him up on the idea, asking for the number of the young woman he’d thought about. (There was also some serious spiritial prompting to find her, but that’s another story). The Institute director knew us both well enough to have a good diea that we might hit it off, and we certainly did. He got to be both best man and father-of-the-bride at our wedding.

    Historically, neither for-love nor arranged marriage has been a recipe for success. It’s those arranged mariages that develop into unexpected love and the for-love marriages that develop unexpectedly into something deeper that last and have the desire to last beyond this life. Those solid marriages are the ones I hope will be standard for marriage in the eternities, no matter how they began.

  21. IDIAT, in your post you say: “There is no language in church publications that indicate a person sealed to plural spouses will have to “choose” one of them.”

    To me, it seemed like you were implying that polyandry (multiple husbands) could therefore exist in heaven. But no one who has commented seems to have made that assumption, rather discussing something on the lines of “it will all get worked out.” But what needs to be worked out? Why should there need to be a choice? Why not two eternal husbands? Isn’t that the question you are asking?

    I think that is a great question, and it’s answer solves a lot of problems. Polyandry would equalize the injustices of polygamy, and apply the principles of the Law of Consecration to sexuality among larger groups of sealed participants. When I read the history of Joseph Smith, it seems to me he might have been going in this direction. It can’t be proven, but I think it is a possibility that would explain these strange polyandrous marriages, and to me, it makes more sense than the explanation that Joseph (or God) thought the women should belong to him in eternity rather than the husbands they loved and lived with.

  22. Nate – Indeed, that is what I’m saying:
    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.

  23. The temples on earth are only approximations of the ultimate temple in heaven. All that we do, while they are real and powerful, are really just dry runs to prepare us for what’s in store in the eternities. We know so very little about what celestial existence entails, and we are cognitively unable to comprehend eternity itself.

  24. MT: “….we are cognitively unable to comprehend eternity itself.”

    Exactly. If exaltation is a process where a being ascends to higher and multiple dimensions, to a higher dimension or some higher quantum state that encompasses multiple universes and from which one can view/comprehend every particle in those 3-dimensional universes simultaneously, where time has no meaning, then indeed, no one is capable of comprehending it until one gets there.

    The more I think about it, the more parallels I see between Moses’ vision, Carl Sagan’s “Flatland” video, and Hawking’s theory of a multi-verse.

  25. There were dynastic sealings and/or adoption sealings also in the early church. Men were sealed to men, as adopted sons to adopted fathers. We don’t do this anymore.
    My mother was married to her first husband and had two children. He had affairs and was not a good father either. Neither were LDS. My mother divorced him, and remarried. My father had been a convert for a few years when he married my mother and she was Baptist. She eventually joined the church. They had three children (one child is me) and adopted a fourth. My father never legally adopted my mother’s two children from her first marriage. My parents did not get sealed to one another until after all the kids were grown and married. All the kids were inactive except for me when they were sealed so none of the kids were sealed to them. I could not make it to the sealing. My mother’s oldest son from her first marriage was reactivated about 5 years ago. He went through the Temple for himself, did the Temple work for his father, and had my mother sealed to his father, then he was sealed to them both (my mother is still living). When his step-mother passes away he said he will have her sealed to his father also. My mother is still living so I did not realize that she could be sealed to her first husband whom she divorced. I thought my mother had to have passed on before she could be sealed to her first husband. Was I wrong. It bothered me that my mother’s son did not wait until my mother passed on before sealing her to her first husband. My mother has Alzheimers and really did not understand what was happening when her son from her first marriage took her to the Temple and had her sealed to her first husband. I strongly feel that if she did not have Alzheimer’s she would not have done the sealing to her first husband. I felt it was disrespectful.
    I was told it would be worked out in the Eternities. And I am the only one in the family who has done genealogy, since I was 13 years old. So I will be the only one making sure the ancestors get sealed, on both sides of the family. Since my parents did not get sealed until late in life and never did genealogy or Temple work for family, some work for some of my ancestors has been done by strangers, and a lot of it is wrong. Now I have to prove what is wrong, and it is not fun.

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