By Cheri

Our troubled relationship with the LDS church began shortly after moving to Arizona, the day our 17-year-old son suddenly declared a desire to convert to his new high school girlfriend’s religion. Not a great first impression to learn he – a minor, without our knowledge or permission – had been taking lessons from missionaries at his girlfriend’s home.

Perceptions did not improve when education was postponed for a mission, one of the many concerns we’d had, but been assured held no interest to him. Two years later our youngest was returned to us very ill and already five semesters behind. Getting married before finishing college was another LDS norm our only son had once agreed was unwise. He was engaged before completing his first year back in school.

Our young son’s fiancé of course, was Mormon, and of course had been taught the temple was the only *right* place to marry. We would be banned from one of the most pivotal events in our child’s life. As the first and only grandchild to marry thus far on either side of our family, his grandparents would have dearly treasured that moment. His only sister was invited to be a bridesmaid; nice gesture, but an attendant that cannot attend? Our extended family and close friends, spread throughout the US, would have joyfully traveled to witness and share in celebrating such an important event. Instead, their introduction to Mormonism would be one of confusion, then alarm at this exclusionary practice. It’s a safe bet there has been little hesitation to inform others of what most consider rather hypocritical of a self-described family-centered church.

In addition to damaging family relationships, I’m not sure the leadership fully grasps the extent of harm done to your church’s image by this policy punishing children for choosing a civil wedding ceremony in order to include non-LDS loved ones. Let me be clear, it is not our desire to enter your temples to witness sealings. In our family and social circles, indeed in polite society, it is the wedding ceremony itself that is paramount – not the reception that normally follows, nor a peculiar ritual. As a wedding coordinator (ironic, isn’t it) I assure you it is considered an insult to only be invited to the reception. It means you’ve been marginalized, on the B-list, left out of the important meaningful part.

Until this punitive policy is lifted, I suggest that engaged converts considering a temple wedding at least be counseled to show some common courtesy, and honor their parents by handling this already difficult situation with understanding and sensitivity.

Our personal experience of being left out of our son’s temple wedding was detailed in an Arizona Republic feature found here.