SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Monday that couples in a civil marriage will no longer have to wait a year to be married in a temple.
The LDS Church said in a press release Monday morning that the new policy “sets a single global standard for Latter-day Saints around the world.” In many countries, couples must by law marry civilly before being married in a temple.
In a letter sent from the First Presidency to church leaders around the world, leaders said “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.”
The First Presidency also stated that Monday’s policy change should not be interpreted as lessening the church’s emphasis on temple sealing.
“The sealing of a husband and wife in the temple is of eternal significance and a crowning experience on the covenant path,” the release said.
New members of the church, however, will continue to be required to wait a year from their confirmation before being able to be married in a temple.
According to the Associated Press, the modification signals the latest change under the leadership of church President Russell M. Nelson, who has made a host of changes since taking over in January 2018. The 94-year-old former surgeon recently rescinded rules banning baptisms for children of gay parents and branding same-sex couples apostates subject to excommunication.
At the heart of issue with weddings is a requirement that only members following the rules of the faith who are approved for “temple recommend” cards can worship inside temples.
Church leaders don’t disclose how many members have these permissions, but it’s believed to be less than half, said Bowman, an associate professor of history at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in an Associated Press report.
That means even some mostly Latter-day Saint families were left with family members who can’t attend the temple ceremonies. The receptions, “or ring ceremonies,” that occur afterward aren’t supposed to resemble a wedding, leaving those left out of the temple feeling like they missed the most important moment, Bowman said.
Associated Press contributed to this report.