Dear First Presidency,

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. As a lifetime member of the Church, I want to express my concern, along with the concern of countless others, about civil marriages and temple sealings in the LDS Church. I am hopeful that you will consider this letter, and what I have to say, with open hearts and minds.

For the past three months I have been reading stories from around the world about different wedding experiences. I have read many truly beautiful stories of inclusion from LDS couples that reside outside of the United States. In these stories, couples were blessed to have their entire families, as well as friends, be a part of their monumental day regardless of religious belief. They were also thankful that they could genuinely cherish their temple sealings and focus on the sacred ordinances since they took place after the stresses from their wedding day celebrations were over.

Now, the stories I have read from members living in the United States and Canada have been very different. A lot of the stories speak of unnecessary pain and exclusion. I read about young brides and grooms who had to exclude a parent or other close family members because he/she could not enter the temple. I read stories of brothers and sisters being excluded not because of worthiness but because of age. For my sealing to my wonderful late husband, I had all my siblings present except my youngest sister. My husband only had three of seven siblings there. And the worthy couples who chose to have a civil wedding first because they couldn’t bear to exclude loved ones from one of the most important events of their lives, have a one-year moratorium placed on their temple sealing. Both scenarios are heartbreaking: either get sealed in the temple and exclude family or get married civilly and defer a temple sealing for one year.

After some investigation, it seems to me that the practice of combining the temple sealing and civil wedding ceremony, as is done in the United States, Canada, and a few other countries, is not doctrinally based. It seems to be a combination of culture and policy.  As you know, 1835 Doctrine & Covenants said this about marriage:

“…we believe, that all marriages in this Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, should be solemnized in a public meeting or feast prepared for that purpose…” (Doctrine and Covenants 101:1, 1835 edition)

As the Church continues to grow, the likelihood that an LDS couple will have non-LDS family will undoubtedly increase. With that increase will also come the increased likelihood that a couple will have to choose between family and the Church. It just seems unnecessary. And in all honesty, it generates a lot of sorrow, grief, and even anger toward the Church when family members who aren’t LDS or temple-worthy are excluded. There has been too much hurt fostered by this policy, a policy that is not consistently applied throughout the world.

I am not demanding that the policy be changed. I am not demanding that those who have not made and kept sacred temple covenants be allowed into our temples. I am respectfully asking you to consider the information I have presented and to prayerfully take this matter to the Lord.

Again thank you for your time.

May God bless you,

Sister Shelli