Alright, we’ve talked about the Word of Wisdom and the temple, but here are a few other rumors circulating:
- Ending the typical mandatory waiting period between a civil marriage and a temple sealing.
- A major announcement of 500 temples around the world within the next 5 years.
- Allowing baptisms for the dead to be performed in meetinghouses.
- Only requiring that temple garments be worn when conducting work inside the temple.
OK, just by reading that, you know a few of these have to be nonsense, right? Let’s work through them.
More Immediate Temple Access
Our first entry seems to be by far the most plausible. And we’ve been burned on this issue in the past, having once been “tipped off” by many “reliable sources” that the Church, in forecasting the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States, would move to separate all temple sealings from civil ceremonies. In the United States and a few other countries, the temple sealing concurrently serves as the civil marriage as far as the state was concerned. No more, we were told! And we were wrong, because that has remained the status quo, even as the norm in most other countries is to get married civilly and then go to the temple for a sealing within a certain window of time, typically calculated based on reasonable travel time to get to a temple.
So bear in mind this rumor pertains a bit more to North American Latter-day Saints than it does to others. In the United States, since a civil marriage is available to you as part of your temple sealing, if a couple gets married outside of the temple, they typically must wait a year before being sealed. There are exceptions, in particular if one of the spouses is a convert of less than a year, in which case the couple can often go to the temple as the convert hits that year mark (i.e. pretend you are marrying someone who was baptized last July but you get married in April. You might only wait until July to get sealed as opposed to the following April).
Unfortunately, there’s something of a cultural assumption among Latter-day Saints that those who are not in one of the described situations are getting married civilly because they are either naughty with morality or because they wanted to get married civilly for the sake of non-LDS family members and need to buck up their faith. Amirite?!
So changing this would be pretty huge and make a difference in the lives of many. However, it also seems unlikely that this would be announced in a forum like conference, as it does not address the day-to-day functioning of the Church.
OK, as for 500 temples. I just… yeah, I dunno. We love predicting temples around here, which is why we do it every six months. But as of the last General Conference, there are 201 temples dedicated, under construction, under renovation, or announced. That would mean 300 more temples in the next five years, or 60 per year, to say nothing of the fact that temples take roughly three years to construct, so if we’re aiming for 500 dedicated temples, we’d basically have to announce the remaining 300 over the next two years.
It was April 1998 when President Hinckley announced what have become known colloquially as the “mini” temples – smaller, simpler temples that provide the bare necessities for temple work. At the time, President Hinckley revealed this design to a stunned congregation, stating that “some 30” of those temples would start construction imminently. He added those 30 to the 17 already announced or under construction at the time, then said that would put the Church at 98 temples, and in classic Hinckley fashion, humored, “we had better add 2 more to make it an even 100 by the end of this century, being 2,000 years ‘since the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the flesh’ (D&C 20:1). In this program we are moving on a scale the like of which we have never seen before.” I miss him.
Indeed, that was a Herculean undertaking, even if it turned out a number of the temples weren’t built well enough for their climate and have required top-to-bottom reconstruction. But we got there. And it was awesome.
The Church just dedicated the 162nd operating temple in Rome, Italy last month (with the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve present, no less), and four more temples are scheduled for dedication this year. Many have noted that President Nelson has relished announcing upwards of 20 temples in just two conferences, and some of those are already moving toward a groundbreaking, and are small, simple, and built for 3-5 stakes to support them.
But to get to 500 would be madness. It’s not that we haven’t risen to the challenges as outlined by the Lord, but I worry that this 500 temple rumor is just because after last conference, everyone expects President Nelson to one-up himself and announce not 12 temples in one go, but 24! Then 48! And so forth.
One way this could be done, however, is the oft-cited possibility of converting a handful of stake centers into temples. We’ve converted older church buildings into temples before (Vernal, Copenhagen, Provo City Center), but I imagine something along these lines would involve a more austere conversion to a building similar to what we’ve seen in Kinshasa or Port-au-Prince – bare essentials, no Moroni, clean but not wild and ornate. Let’s just hope the burlap walls are deemed too inelegant to meet the Lord’s standards.
The other part of me hopes this is true because it would be really awesome.
Local Baptisms for the Dead
We’re not sure how much stock to put in this one. After all, it was only in December 2017 that the Church changed policies to allow Latter-day Saint youth to participate at a deeper level in baptisms for the dead, giving priests the opportunity to perform the actual baptisms and serve as witnesses. That has already revved up the youth for being worthy of the temple, and it makes for even more special temple trips. Would it be as special to fill up the ol’ font that’s attached to the nursery room? You see where this goes. Our meetinghouses, as wonderful as they are, do not have the same sacred air and attention to detail as a temple.
With that said, baptisms for the dead have been performed outside of the temple earlier in the Church’s history, but that was more out of necessity than design.
Crazier things have happened, but we’re not holding our breath.
Templeless and Garmentless
No. Just no. How on earth would this happen? Why would this happen? We already talked about the Church not capitulating to societal pressure, and garments are serious business. We are instructed not to alter them to fit with fashion. We are told to wear them at all times. We are dissuaded from removing them unless absolutely necessary (e.g. keep them on for yard work, nerds). This would go against everything related to the temple garment. The point of the garment is to have a reminder of temple covenants with us when we are away from the temple. What would be the point if we only wore that reminder when we were already there?