Marriage Prep Class: Week 1

I’m in a marriage prep sunday school class at church to prepare for my upcoming marriage in January. I suppose I’m a little skeptical of the course, and I’m anticipating that a lot of things will rub me the wrong way. I know that if I approach the course with this attitude, of course I will find fault, so I’m trying to remain positive about it. And overall, the lesson the first week was uplifting and made a lot of sense to me. But the last 3 minutes of class we rushed through 6 points of “Becoming One Through a Temple Marriage.” It was given on a small, yellow, bookmark-looking piece of paper, with no source cited. It really did not sit well with me. Here are the six points:

1. Civil marriage is a contract between a man and a woman. Temple marriage is a covenant which includes God.
2. Civil marriage can be looked upon as “what am I going to get out of this.” Temple marriage is “how can we give and grow together.”
3. Civil marriage is often a 50/50 relationship. In a temple marriage each person should give 100%.
4. There is greater security in a temple marriage as it is less likely individuals will walk away when times are tough.
5. In a temple marriage, your attitude, focus, and foundation is on the spiritual and eternal, rather than the temporal here and now.
6. Temple marriage covenants can be continually remembered and renewed by doing temple sealings.

First, let’s start with the positive. Point #5 is something I can really wrap my head around. I agree completely that choosing a sacred venue for a wedding ceremony will allow the couple to psychologically and spiritually base their marriage on a spiritual foundation. This is the most prominent reason Melanie and I have chosen to be married in the temple.

Now for some negative reactions. Point #2 just seems silly. To characterize those who choose to have a civil ceremony as selfish and only looking out for themselves is untrue. In addition, for some members of the LDS faith, the motivation for a temple wedding IS because they believe they will receive something additional that they wouldn’t receive in a civil ceremony.

Point #3 seems misguided. My friend Paul had some good insights into this one. He really liked the advice that each partner should not bring only 50% to the marriage, but 100%. It’s a lovely thought. But I don’t see the connection to temple or civil marriages here. I don’t understand what about a temple guarantees (or encourages) partners to view their contribution as 100% rather than 50% that a civil marriage would not also provide (beyond the benefits Point #5 illustrates).

Point #4 is not only increasingly not supported by statistics, but it also illustrates what could be seen as a weakness of LDS culture when discussing temple marriage. I hope it is true that individuals who have a temple marriage are less likely to walk away from a marriage than those with a civil marriage. But to say that there is a greater sense of security in a temple marriage might lead some newlyweds to assume that a temple marriage requires “less work” to be successful because both partners are more committed to each other.

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