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Q: Mormons marrying outside their faith ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   9 Comments )
Subject: Mormons marrying outside their faith
Category: Relationships and Society > Relationships
Asked by: dollyllama-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 15 May 2002 04:05 PDT
Expires: 22 May 2002 04:05 PDT
Question ID: 16332
I'm in a relationship with a woman who is devoutly Mormon. I love her
dearly and respect her faith, but am not interested in converting (or
more specifically don't 'feel' her faith in such a way that I think I
could honestly convert). We've talked about marriage and therein lies
the question.

She believes she must marry in the temple. To do so would require my
conversion. Is there a compromise in the situation or do I have to let
her go?
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
Answered By: mvguy-ga on 15 May 2002 08:52 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dollylama --

Congratulations on your relationship.  If you're dating someone who's
a devout church member and you're not, you must have some pretty high
standards that she respects.  Many devout church members don't date
outside the faith, partly to avoid the sort of problem that has
surfaced here.

I'm answering your question as someone who is intimately familiar with
the church. I've also provided some links below to some Internet
resources on the church (as have some people who have already

I'm not sure how much you know about the church procedures and such,
so please forgive me if I'm repeating much you don't know or if I
start providing information that doesn't make sense.  Feel free to ask
for a clarification if I haven't made things clear.

First of all, one of the key LDS doctrines is that to attain
exaltation, or the highest state of heaven, one must do so as part of
a couple.  Generally, marriages are believed to be in effect only
while the couple is on earth.  But if their marriage is "sealed" in a
temple, the marriage can literally last forever, making exaltation
possible.  There are several ways in which a couple can have an
eternal marriage:

-- They can be married in the temple and have the sealing done at the
same time.  This is what your girlfriend desires and is very common
when both people are devout members.

-- They can be legally married outside the temple (at a Mormon church,
at another church, by the county clerk, whatever) and have their
marriage sealed later.  This is common when one person is a member and
the other isn't, when at least one of the two can't enter the temple
even if both are members, or if both are members and want to have
non-members present at the wedding.  Under current church policy, the
sealing can take place no sooner than a year after the marriage
(except in those countries where marriages must be performed in
public, in which case sealings take place a few hours or a day after
the marriage).

-- They can be legally married outside the temple (at Mormon church,
at another church, by the county clerk, whatever) and have their
marriage sealed for them by proxy after their death.  This is common
in situations where one person isn't a member, or when neither is a
member but their children or other descendants wish to have the
marriage sealed.

-- They can have a marriage performed and sealed by proxy after they
both have died, even if they didn't know each other while alive.  At
least today, this is seldom done.

In your case, the first three are your options.  Basically, what you
can do is this:

-- You can convert, then be married a year later in the temple.

-- You can get married, then convert, then have your marriage sealed
in the temple a year later.

-- You can get married and not convert.  Your marriage could be sealed
after you have died even if you aren't a church member (although as a
practical matter it probably wouldn't be done if you expressly state
your desires that it not be).

That's really it.  There really is no other compromise (unless your
girlfriend leaves the church).

Under all three of these methods, you end up in the same heaven after
death.  There are no eternal consequences for not getting married in
the temple, as long as you are sealed at some time.  In fact, many of
the current LDS church leaders weren't married in temples, partly
because there were so few of them a generation ago.

However, and this is a big however, there is a lot of social pressure
within the church and within LDS families to be married in the temple.
 Although the church has never officially condemned any one of the
options, it is often taught and believed that it is "better" to be
married in the temple, and a marriage in the temple is often upheld as
the ideal way to live a life.  There are some "commands" within the
church (such as to not use tobacco and to pay tithing), but getting
married in the temple is not one of them.  Failure to be married in
the temple doesn't prevent anyone from holding any church office to
which the person is otherwise qualified (in fact, I know of one Relief
Society president, the highest local office for a woman, who has a
nonmember husband).  However, I have heard some people who married
outside the temple say they feel "second rate" because it is seen as
such an ideal.

My advice (and this is just my personal opinion) is that you shouldn't
join the church simply to get married in the temple and/or to please
your girlfriend.  You should join the church only if you believe it is
the church it claims to be.  You need to be true to yourself, and (if
you believe in God) to do what you believe God would have you do in

I have known of some marriages between Mormons and non-Mormons.  Some
of have worked well, and some haven't. (I also heard a talk given by
the church's president, Gordon B. Hinckley, about two years ago in
which he talked about a marriage in which an active member had married
a nonmember.  He did not condemn it; in fact, he praised the woman for
living up to church standards.). I have known a number of marriages
where one of the couple (usually the husband) joins the church after

But to make such a "mixed" marriage work takes effort.  It also means
that the member can't be pressuring the nonmember to join (which is
tempting).  It also means they must have worked out a mutually
acceptable way of teaching (or not teaching) children the faith.

The only "compromise" I can see in your situation is for you to get
married in an LDS church (not the temple) and for you to agree that
you will support your wife in her church activities and that you will
get sealed in the temple if you should ever decide to convert to the
church.  My guess is this would work for you; it may not work for her
-- not because she is violating any church teachings, but because not
marrying in the temple would mean giving up a dream that has been
instilled in her.

Just a final personal note:  You can't believe everything you read
about the church. I did a major study of the church a few years ago,
and I found that much of the anti-LDS effort was filled with lies and
half-truths (and, to be fair, many Mormons aren't willing to face some
of the difficult questions raised by their faith). I'd encourage you,
especially if you decide to marry this woman, to keep an open mind
about the church and familiarize yourself with its teachings.  Here
are a few sites that might be useful:

The official church site:

Another official church site, this one aimed at nonmembers:

About LDS (site includes bulletin board that has had discussion on
member/nonmember marriages):

Religious Tolerance (a mostly unbiased look at the church):

Recovery from Mormonism (a nonsectarian anti-LDS site that offers some
useful insights into LDS culture):

Also, if you perform this Google search, you can find some articles
relating specifically to your question:

I hope this helps.  Best wishes in working out a joyous future.


dollyllama-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Your answer was very fair, honest, and direct. I appreciate the time
you took in your answer. I wish I could say the same for some of the
comments, particularly the first one.

Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: wellfine-ga on 15 May 2002 05:07 PDT
I am surprised she is dating you!
After all you marry the people you date.
If she is truely faithful the odds of her marrying you should be very small.
At here core she will know that her marriage is only until death.
Mormons marry in the temple so that their marriage can span all eternity
and not for just this brief time on earth.
If would be interesting to know what you can not give up the keeps you 
from seriously considering conversion.
Consider this.  Who she is, is very much a direct result of the way she has
chosen to live her life.  The odds are good that you may not have been attracted
to her had she not committed herself to a higher standard which is a very
basic tenant of the mormon faith.
Good Luck
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: halogenstudios-ga on 15 May 2002 05:33 PDT
I agree with wellfine.  She probably won't marry you unless you

This gives you three options. (A) Convert, (B) Break Up, and (C)
Convert her.

Have you put much thought into option (C)?  There are countless books
and websites out there that should help you to try to do this:

Look at it this way.  You're not going to convert to mormonism, so
you've got nothing to loose.  Sure, she might dump you if you try to
convert her -- but she'd do that anyways if you didn't change.  That,
my friend, is your only hope!

- Alex
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: browolf-ga on 15 May 2002 06:00 PDT
Non-mormons arent allowed to attend mormon weddings at the temple
Questions and answers about mormons
"Since only worthy Mormons can enter the temple, Mormon temple
weddings exclude non-Mormon family members, even parents of the bride
and groom. No music, no poetry, no photographs are allowed during the
short wedding ceremony in the temple. (Although the bride may wear a
traditional white wedding gown, she must wear the ritual temple
clothing over the gown.)"

From reading these pages it seems highly unlikely that you could get
It seems "mormon" and "compromise" aren't really words that fit into
the same sentance.
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: weisstho-ga on 15 May 2002 07:00 PDT
And notwithstanding all of the above, what would happen to the kids?
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: cipher-ga on 15 May 2002 07:09 PDT
Sorry man...

I was in the EXACT situation you were in when I was living in Seattle.

Ixnay on the Arrigemay...

It doesn't work out, they are required to marry in the temple if they
want the 'eternally together' bit.  Most of them are either pretty
devout or insane, I haven't figured out which.  I agree with halogen
on the three options.  Since I moved across the country (to Wisconsin)
you can see which choice I made...

Been there done that... You will get over it...
And its better than wearing "Holy Underwear"
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: djscram-ga on 15 May 2002 09:39 PDT
I married a woman who was a member of a strong religion I did not
share.  It worked for a while, until we began spending a lot of time
around her family.  Then the pressures began, and I felt constantly
that I was making her miserable by withholding the thing she dreamed
of, a very public and complete conversion that would somehow make her
family much happier.  The pressure increased when other things
happened that drove her deeper into her religion (sickness in her
family, etc.).
I don't know if I'd say not to do it, but realize that those beliefs
and that family aren't going anywhere, and as things go up and down in
life, she may find that her tolerance of your failure to share her
beliefs may fade.
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: mr_wizard-ga on 15 May 2002 10:23 PDT
Mvguy's inital answer to this question is right on target.  I would
add that "converting" to Mormonism is not an easy or automatic thing,
even if you decide you want to join your girl friend's faith.  Unlike
most religions, Mormonism is really a way of life and faith, not
something you move into and out of like a country club or fraternity. 
You will have to qualify for the privilege by learning and living some
truths that are not easy to accept unless you are commited to changing
your life and finding out just why you have been placed here on earth.
 If you are sincere and really dedicated to understanding Mormonism,
you will be anxious to accept and honor the high standards your girl
believes in.  If you take upon yourself the covenants of baptism and
membership in the LDS Church for any reason other than because you
really believe in it's truth, you will most likely not be happy and
feel too constrained by it's high standards of moral behavior.  My
challenge to you:  ask your girl friend to share her beliefs with you
then make the effort to see for yourself if what she is telling you is
true.  If you find out, for yourself, that it is, you will have made
the most important discovery of your life!  Good luck . . .
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: skis4jc-ga on 15 May 2002 11:45 PDT
Marriage is about compromise, Faith isn't.
The two must be equal, as two people should be "equally yoked".
You need to be pretty well matched spiritually, mentally, physically
and emotionally.
If you can't agree on a religion, a way of life, what makes you think
a marriage would work?

In case you need any more evidence for why you SHOULDN'T join
Mormonism, check out these reliable sites:
Subject: Re: Mormons marrying outside their faith
From: silid-ga on 21 Dec 2002 18:45 PST
the researchers answer is fair and mostly accurate with just one minor
 mvguy said "Under all three of these methods, you end up in the same
heaven after death. "

with the proxy business after death it is given as an opportunity to
those who didn't receive a fair opportunity in this life. (I am not
the one who judges who has had a fair opportunity or not) It is not
given as an easy option for those who like the idea of an eternal
marriage but just don't want to do what it takes. (not an accusation).

I think you are a brave man and I wish both you and her every


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