Monday, July 17, 2006

Temple divorce II

Reiterating some thoughts shared elsewhere...

I am vitally interested in these questions. While I have implicit faith that Heavenly Father will eventually help us understand all the implications, I don't know exactly what a divorce means in terms of my temple covenants.

For myself, I suppose that civil divorce from a temple marriage is relatively meaningless, in the eternal scheme of things. This is an act intended to cover a situation that can only exist in this temporary state. I am thinking that perhaps Jesus' words about divorce in the New Testament have strong application to the idea of cancelling a temple sealing. He said that the followers of Moses were given permission to divorce only because they stubbornly and wilfully insisted. I don't believe this was to their credit, and the pervasiveness of divorce in our society has similar significance.

I prefer to think that I stand assured of the blessings that have been promised, if I keep myself worthy, regardless of the acts or worthiness of others. While I cannot imagine exactly how these blessings will come about, I trust that it is so. My temple covenants are eternal. They cannot be abrogated or compromised by decrees of civil law, nor by the faithlessness of others. It is a fundamental doctrine of the gospel that we are accountable for our own acts, and will not be punished for the misdeeds of others.

Yet it stands to reason that we could not have any kind of eternal relationship - as in my case, given the fact that my exwife and I could not even survive a couple of decades of trial here. Alma counsels that "this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God" and that the same spirit which possesses our bodies now will continue with us in the worlds to come. Our marital relations will not undergo some miraculous transformation at the last day. Impossible to guess now how these difficulties will be worked out, but they must be, and will be, eventually.

It may be that some of our struggle with a rationale for divorced and fragmented families stems from our inability to understand the real nature of celestial marriage. I suppose what we can picture now is a very simplified version of what life with Heavenly Father will really be. We strive to model our earthly families after the form and function of the celestial, as far as we can envision that environment. From my perspective, this is a good thing to look forward to-things can only get better. (And I find myself feeling as though they could not get much worse, just now.)

I will always wonder, though: If I was really a good person, perhaps these evil things would not have happened to me. During the time when I was happily married - and it was quite a long stretch - I often expressed in prayers my gratitude for such a good marriage. What can I say now? Thanks for the memories, it was good while it lasted? I just don't feel as if "Better luck next time" is a very comforting thought.


Anonymous said...

Mormons that are civilly married and a few years later married/sealed in the Mormon Temple (spiritual marriage binding for eternity) and divorce by civil law years later, still be considered spiritually married like the FLDS group in Texas? Are they polygamists if they remarry? Because if they are, I am a polygamist and so is my ex-husband and a lot of other Mormons. Try thousands, because the Church recognizes the sealing as husband, wife and family even after the civil divorce.

Jim Cobabe said...


"Spiritually married" is not well defined, in my thinking. From the point of view of those who are married to multiple partners, but in a sequence of relationships, I believe this cannot rightly be equated with "polygamy". Plural marriage sanctioned simultaneous cohabitation. To me the implications of that quality made it unique.

What the Church "recognizes" is also poorly defined. On my official records, my former children are still listed as related to me, though for reasons of their own, they no longer use the names I originally gave them.

My former spouse is not listed on my record, though I presume we are still "officially" sealed.

It does not matter -- to me, that distinction is all but pointless, and effectively meaningless. My former spouse renounced her covenants and sold her marriage rights to obtain a civil divorce. She cannot come back later and claim that she has unchanged her mind. How would she go about such a thing? Hire a lawyer to force me to be legally married to her again?