New changes to civil marriages for Latter-day Saints

Under the new policy, the bride or groom must belong to the church.

(Rick Bowmer, The Associated Press) In this file photo from April 6, 2019, a couple gaze at the Salt Lake City Temple. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced this week that its lay leaders can no longer perform civil marriages among nonmembers.

Lay leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can no longer perform civil marriages among nonmembers.

The Faith’s governing First Presidency on Wednesday announced changes to “the conditions under which church officers may perform civil marriages between a man and a woman.”

As of now, bishops, mission presidents, and other congregation leaders can only perform such ceremonies if “the bride or groom” is a Latter-day Saint.

Church policy previously allowed these lay leaders to do honors to nonmembers.

The church also declares that at least one of the bride and groom must be a member of the chief’s ecclesiastical unit. And the officiant must be legally authorized to perform a civil marriage in that jurisdiction.

The updated policy also applies to stake and district presidents (who oversee groups of congregations).

The change comes barely a month after the church stopped performing “time-limited” marriages at its temples, which are now strictly reserved for eternal marriages, or “sealings”.

More than two years ago, the Utah-based faith unveiled a monumental change in marriage policy, ending the one-year wait period throughout the church between a civil marriage and a temple sealing. .

This decision allowed Latter-day Saint couples to marry civilly and invite all their loved ones to the wedding, then be sealed for eternity – without delay – in a temple ceremony, only for faithful members. .

This had already been the practice for Latter-day Saints in many countries, who require couples to marry first in a public ceremony before private religious vows are taken. Until the change of 2019 for the United States and Canada, newlyweds generally had to wait 12 months before being sealed if they married civilly. Therefore, they often got married and were sealed simultaneously.

The lifting of the waiting period, which church officials had envisioned for years, created a unique worldwide standard for Latter-day Saint couples. It also came shortly after the denomination overturned a controversial LGBTQ exclusion policy that had branded same-sex member couples “apostates” and banned their children from religious rites until they are 18 years old.

According to the General Manual of the Faith, church officers “must not use their ecclesiastical authority to perform same-sex marriages.”

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