Temple Marriage Policy: Argentina and U.S.A.

Couple at Salt Lake TempleTemple Marriage

In a September 2011 Ensign article titled, Giving God a Chance to Bless Us, a church district in Argentina is highlighted for its unusually high rate of temple marriage among young adults.  The article describes a number of factors that may contribute to this success: encouraging temple-worthiness among young, single adults; providing young single adults with ample social opportunities to meet each other; and encouraging young people to take the risk of marriage in spite of financial difficulties or the imperfections of their significant others.

These factors seem relevant, but I wonder if there is another factor improving temple marriage rates that the article is not mentioning: local temple marriage policies.  Argentina is one of several countries that legally requires couples to marry civilly or in a public place.  In these countries, LDS couples marry outside the temple and then enter the temple to receive the sealing ordinance.

In my country, the United States of America (U.S.A.), these legal restrictions do not apply.  Unmarried couples may enter the temple and become married and sealed at once.  However, the Church has applied some extra rules to couples in countries like my own to counterbalance this freedom. In countries like mine, the Church forbids couples who choose to marry outside the temple from being sealed in the temple for at least a year after their marriages.

This policy creates a difficult barrier to temple marriage for LDS couples in the U.S.A. whose parents, siblings or close friends are not members of the church.  If they marry in the temple, they must exclude people who are close to them from the marriage ceremony.  If their parents or other loved ones are undecided in their opinions about the LDS church, this exclusion may solidify their opinions in a negative direction.  The church allows couples to have a public ring exchange ceremony as a sort of compensation prize for family members excluded from the marriage ceremony, but the church imposes regulations surrounding this ceremony forbidding vow exchanges and making this “ceremony” as unceremonial as possible.

In contrast, Argentinean LDS couples may marry with all of their friends and family present, regardless of faith.  Immediately thereafter, they may enter the temple and seal their marriage for eternity.  If we allowed couples in all countries to have this option, especially if they have non-LDS families, could we improve temple marriage rates worldwide?

April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is an advocate, mother, professional, lover of the arts, hater (but doer) of housework and seeker of truth. Twitter: @aprilyoungb

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53 Responses

  1. Maybe instead of opposing same-sex marriage, the church should be advocating civil unions performed under state direction, with religious marriage ceremonies afterwards as an option for members of any faith.

    Two dilemmas could be solved with one policy.

  2. Germany also has the marry-civilly-first law.

  3. Starfoxy says:

    I remember reading someone (I think it was Bridget Jack Jeffries) commenting on how LDS folk talk like our weddings are so much different, so much better, and so much more meaningful than secular weddings, but then we do our darndest to make it look like we had the secular wedding that everyone else has. We dress up in the clothes, we have a bouquet, we have bridesmaids, and everyone wears tuxes, and so on and so forth.
    Hearing it put that way I think we do a disservice to ourselves and the sacredness of the sealing ordinance when we try to dress it up to look like the same sort of party everyone else is having. So I think that divorcing (heehee!) the secular wedding from the sacred ordinance would be a good idea all around.
    For one, as you mention it would make life so much easier on part member families. What is currently a huge source of conflict for many people could simply be done away with. And it would be just plain fun to celebrate a wedding in our culture’s traditional fashion. (We do have a culture, even it is invisible to us.)
    And for two, I think we could then treat the sealing as a much more private sacred event. As it is now for many people the sealing ordinance itself is just one more thing on the checklist of things one does on their wedding day; Go to the salon, go to the temple, meet the photographer, attend the luncheon, and then meet up with everyone else at the reception. Removing the temple sealing from that line-up of events and placing it off on its own would, I think, give the couple a chance to treat it with more reverence and meaning than it might otherwise get.
    The older I’ve gotten the more it is plain to me that a wedding is just a party, a fun social event. Trying to insert a private sacred ordinance into the middle of it ends up ruining both.

    • Amen. As my sister prepares for her civil wedding to her newer member fiance, I find myself pretty envious. I took the only real route a 21 year old faithful has, which is marrying in the temple. I now regret excluding my friends, my sisters, my dear uncle, and so many from the celebration. A reception is not the same.

      Further, I wish the sealing had been more private–just our closest friends and family, not every damn relative and friend with a temple recommend. It somehow made it less sacred.

      • Ted says:

        Great use of language! That made your point more poignant for me for sure….no. You have as many options as there are out there. If you felt trapped by the best, ideal option, I’m sorry you feel that way. You might not have been looking at it the right way.

      • mraynes says:

        Watch it, Ted. It is fine to disagree with somebody but mocking them and telling them that their experience is wrong is completely inappropriate. Please see our comment policy on how to engage in this forum.

  4. MJK says:

    My feelings on my personal situation are conflicted. I sometimes wonder if we made the right choice in choosing to wait to be married in the temple (he was a convert, so we had to wait a year after he was baptized, and at that point we had already been unofficially engaged for 6 months or so. Choosing to make that decision led us to make other ones about finances, school, employment, etc that have brought us to a very tight spot right now. I wonder if we would be temporally better off if we had done it the other way round.
    I was always told the one year restriction on temple marriage after civil marriage is so that we all learn to prioritize what’s important from an eternal perspective, yada yada. I felt like I would have been looked down on if we had chosen to get married a few months after he was baptized, then waited the year to be sealed, and if I’m honest with myself that was a bigger factor in why we did it the way we did. I don’t know if people would actually have thought uncharitable things about me/us, but I know I heard lots of tsk-ing and critical remarks about girls in my home branch growing up who married civilly and were sealed later.

    • Lee says:

      During the 4 years I was an Elder’s Q.Pres. at a military base I counciled at least one or two guys in similar situations to get married quickly and then go to the temple as soon as possible. There is not a separate place in the Celestial Kingdom for those who get married in the temple first and another for those who are married in the temple later. But you are right, Mormons are very judgemental and a wee bit self-rightous.

      • Lee says:

        BTW, I gave that council based on the example a Bishop at BYU set when we had a couple in our ward got married a few months after the bride was baptized. It was a wonderful wedding (no horror story of self rightous condemnation here) and then they were sealed later.

      • Tim Rollins says:

        A wee bit? Try self-righteous and exclusionary on crack cocaine with a PCP chaser! Just how much positive PR will a crappy attitude like THEIRS generate for the Church? HUH?!?

  5. EM says:

    Getting married civilly is a great idea. I wanted that option but the parental units insisted that I get married in the temple. I was not ready or even had any clue as to what it was all about. For my parents it was more “what would people think” if I didn’t get married in the temple. Forty plus years later and if I had to do it over again – I wouldn’t get married in the temple first.

    • MJK says:

      This – I wonder how many young women go through their endowment before they are ready spiritually simply because of pressure to be married in the temple?

  6. Does having a civil marriage then sealing make the temple more of an afterthought, instead of a core part of our doctrine? Is it saying that it is not so important to keep the law of chastity, because you have to wait a year to go to the temple anyway?

    (I’m not trying to argue one way or another, these are just questions that popped through my mind)

    I’d think the quickest way to get this policy to change would be to petition state/fedral governments to restrict marriage powers to county clerks, which is the reason for the allowance in other countries.

    • amelia says:

      I’m actually more convinced by Starfoxy’s argument that separating civil wedding and temple sealing would actually allow people to more thoughtfully and reverently approach the sealing as its own thing. I know far too many women (mostly women because most of the men I know went on missions so were endowed then) for whom endowment is an afterthought because they just have to do it to get married, and the sealing itself isn’t thought of a whole lot cause it takes care of itself (once an appointment is made) where the party does not. If what we want is people to give the sealing the respect and care and reverence we claim it deserves, I think separating out civil and temple ceremonies makes the most sense, not less sense.

      As for the chastity question–if the policy is changed, people could go to the temple the very next day, or even the same day, as their civil marriage. Therefore there would be no lessened emphasis on chastity since it would still be a requirement for being sealed in the temple in the same window of time as getting civilly married.

      And you’re not entirely right on why separate ceremonies are allowed in other countries. For instance, in England and Wales religious officiants can and regularly do perform marriage ceremonies that are recognized as being both a religious and a civil ceremony (in other words they are legitimate civil marriages, not just religious ceremonies). But the venue in which the ceremony occurs must be regularly open to the general public. Since temples are not, it is not possible for someone to get married civilly in an LDS temple even though they could get married in an Anglican church and have that ceremony be a civil as well as a religious ceremony.

  7. Remlap says:

    I read an article recently that stated that only in Canada and the US does the Church require a couple to wait a year after a civil marriage. An LDS group out of Canada put together a petition to give to the Church HQs requesting the policy be changed to allow worthy members in Canada and the US to be sealed immediately after a civil wedding. From what I understand, the petition was not received well at the corporate headquarters. This seems to be clearly policy and not doctrine; I don’t see the big deal in changing.

    • amelia says:

      I’d love to take a look at this article. Do you remember where you read it?

    • Ted says:

      If there was not a spiritually valuable reason to set the policy that way, Heavenly Father would have directed our prophet to change it. We’re led by a prophet…please trust that the fact that we don’t understand something doesn’t imply that our leaders have it wrong.

      • April says:

        Ted, I agree with your statement that, the fact that we don’t understand something doesn’t imply that our leaders have it wrong.

        However, I have to respectfully disagree with this statement, If there was not a spiritually valuable reason to set the policy that way, Heavenly Father would have directed our prophet to change it.

        My understanding is that policies are different than doctrines and that policies are created by people exercising their own common sense and agency. I do not believe that policy is directly written by God.

        I also believe that on frequent occasions, God does not reveal doctrinal changes until after someone studies the matter and inquires, rather than God stepping in and fixing and correcting all of the time. As I understand it, this is how the gospel was restored, how the word of wisdom was revealed, and how many other current doctrines came to be.

      • Miriam Feldstein Case says:

        I agree 100%!

      • Lee says:

        Ted, there are always lessons to be learned when we are obeident to the prophet. However, I have been in enough leadership positions (4 yrs as an EQP, ward mission leader, a yr as a finance clerk, and the past year as a stake clerk) to see that often decissions are made based on the bishop/ st. pres. etc. preference. True, there are times when the Spirit clearly directs the outcome, but many times the Lord simply leaves it to the one holding the keys of the priesthood and He backs up that leader. If you have gone to the temple regularly over the past 10 or 15 yrs you might recall about 7 or 9 yrs ago some cosmetic changes were made to the way the endownment ordinance is done. Nothing major like saying baptizim doesn’t need to be done by immersion, but a couple of changes still, yet the covenants made did not change. It was basically because Pres. Hinckley thought modifying things a bit might make it easier for some people, then Pres. Monson took that idea a little further. To change the requirement on waiting a year after a civil marriage would be no different. There is not a separate place in the Celestial Kingdom for those who get married in the temple first and another for those who are married in the temple later.

  8. amelia says:

    I frankly just do not understand this policy. It seems needlessly punitive and divisive, with essentially no positive consequences. I can’t even think of any remotely logical justification for requiring that if one wants to be sealed when one gets married, one must *only* have a sealing or else one must wait a full year before being sealed. Especially given the fact that the church uses the whole benefit-of-being-protected-by-covenants to justify keeping divorced partners sealed even after both parties have requested a dissolution of their sealing. If it’s really so very much better for people to enjoy the protections of this particular covenant, then the only justification I can see for the waiting period of a year is punishment for not doing it right in the first place.

    I also think it’s entirely despicable of members to gossip about why a couple might be getting married civilly rather than sealed. and lots of members do. I’ve been around long enough to have heard all kinds of that gossip.

    Also, I’d love to see them allow civil ceremonies performed by bishops to loosen up a bit. Every wedding I’ve ever gone to where a bishop officiated felt less than joyful and a lot more like a subtle (or not so subtle) scold of the couple for not doing it the Right Way.

    • amelia says:

      I just remembered one exception to my last comment about bishop-officiated weddings. But that bishop was a bit heterodox, which I think had everything to do with it.

    • alex w. says:

      “Every wedding I’ve ever gone to where a bishop officiated felt less than joyful and a lot more like a subtle (or not so subtle) scold of the couple for not doing it the Right Way”

      It’s true, and I’ve felt uncomfortable every single time I’ve seen it happen-even when I was a little kid at someone’s wedding.
      That’s why, when I got married, we didn’t have a bishop officiate. My dad wanted us to, and was irritated with us for our decision (“are you trying to take God out of this wedding?” Well Dad, I AM marrying an atheist former-mormon.) A friend of mine filled out a form online and did it. It kind of seems weird that it’s so easy, but the county clerk took it. We’re married, and a (female) friend did a short, sweet ceremony that didn’t say anything about how unfortunate it was that we weren’t doing this in the temple (which happened at my sister -in-law’s wedding earlier this year).

  9. alex w. says:

    I didn’t end up getting married in the temple because my husband went from Mormon to former Mormon during the course of our courtship. My mom isn’t LDS, and the second best thing about my wedding (aside from the getting married part) was that my mom was there for all of it. Honestly, even if he stayed LDS I would have argued to get married civilly first, because having my family there is that important. Not saying that it’s not important to people who make a different decision, but I’ve always known that not having my mom there would break my heart.

  10. Michael D. says:

    “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
    “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
    “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matt. 10:35-37)

    • Mraynes says:

      Michael D- passive aggressive use of scriptures as a way to question another’s righteousness is a violation of our comment policy #4. Disagreeing with the post or commentors is fine but do so in a respectful, ethical manner.

  11. Bones says:

    I understand that the handbook (#1) probably discourages vow ceremonies though i dont have one here to check it out. But, you used the word “forbid.”. That is a pretty strong word and makes me wonder how it is worded in the handbook. Does anyone have a copy handy? I’m curious and know that i rarely allow anyone to “forbid” me to do anything. Why not just do it? This isn’t communist China.

    • April says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful question. I was going off of the most recent public statement, from the Oct. 2010 Ensign, which says, A couple may also arrange with their bishop to hold a special meeting afterward for relatives and friends who do not have a recommend. This meeting provides an opportunity for them to feel included and to learn about eternal marriage. Although no ceremony is performed and no vows are exchanged, rings may be exchanged at such a meeting.

      However, after reading your comment I checked a 1998 copy of Church Handbook of Instructions (which has been replaced by a more recent version, but I do not have access to the newer version). According to the 1998 version, The couple should not exchange vows. “Should not” is a softer term than “may not” so I certainly wouldn’t argue with a couple who chooses to interpret that statement with wiggle room to do what is right for their own wedding. (Of course, I wouldn’t argue with them, anyway.)

  12. Deborah says:

    The current policy in the US creates such pain, bad blood and family divisiveness that I believe its only a matter of time until it changes — clearly, it wouldn’t take a revelation, given that it is done this way in several other nations. It’s such a win-win!

    In fact, I know of one case where the bishop successfully petitioned SLC to allow a two LDS converts to have the year-waiting period suspended because it was tearing their families apart. They had a civil marriage and a quiet sealing the next week.

    As for me, one of the greatest blessings of my interfaith ceremony was having my father walk me down the aisle. Just before the music began, he gave me a squeeze and told me how proud of me he was. This memory is priceless, particularly now that he is no longer with us.

    • Margaret says:

      The policy has changed regarding converts. If a new convert marries, the couple can be sealed at the year anniversary of baptism (the normal waiting period) rather than a year from marriage. I think this was a very thoughtful policy change from the Church, taking into account the feelings of family members of a new convert.

  13. Maryly says:

    I went to a bishop-officiated wedding in a chapel 10 years ago; I will never forget it. Our bishop, who really should have known better, gave a talk that nearly condemned the young woman for not insisting that her convert fiance wait the required 12 months from his baptism. Her mother was pale and fighting tears and her father stared at his feet. And the groom’s nonmember family? Don’t ask! After all that gloom, when the couple was pronounced husband and wife, the organist (one of my sons, an organ student at a Lutheran university) played “On This Day of Joy and Gladness” exactly as we would expect, given the title. Jonathan poured all his energy and considerable skill into the hymn, filling the room with, well, joy and gladness. The couple, who had glumly turned to face the congregation, suddenly smiled widely; the congregation began to applaud them, and they walked down the aisle to hugs and happy blessings and grins. The marriage has happily endured and been sealed in the temple; the couple are now the parents of two wonderful children and indispensible in our ward. My son, however, after repeated exposures to other homilies like the bishop’s as well as “advice” from well-meaning high priests (“You’ll never make it as a concert organist; you’ll never be a university professor; major in computers” . . .) is now inactive. I remember President Hinckley once said, “People, not programs; doctrine, not policy.” And Ralph Waldo Emerson called Mormonism “the last gasp of Puritanism in America”. I do get tired of waiting for the Church to catch up with the Gospel.

  14. LovelyLauren says:

    I was married in the temple, but I sometimes wish that we had a civil wedding so my dad an my best friend could have been there. Due to chastity issues, we pushed back our wedding six months to be married in the temple an the endowment was deeply damaging to my faith.

    I sometimes wonder if the endowment would have been a better experience if it could have been a quiet, spiritual journey instead of a hurried experience surrounded by family members who expected me to enjoy it, the evening before my sealing.

  15. Andrea says:

    These stories make me sick. What authority does the church have over weddings if they aren’t in the temple, a church house, or officiated by a bishop? I really don’t believe the church can impose regulations on a couple’s choice of ceremony outside of those. That being said, it’s a travesty that people willingly submit to the prejudiced, archaic attitudes of the church on these issues.

    My sister was married at the White House in Bountiful by their bishop. He told them they weren’t allowed to play “Here Comes the Bride.” WTF?! Sounds like the church wants to ensure weddings outside the temple are not more fun. Because they couldn’t play “Here Comes the Bride,” and Mormons in Utah don’t regularly attend normal wedding ceremonies (you’d think they would’ve seen some on TV!) the guests didn’t even know they were supposed to stand up when my sister started walking down the aisle. DUH!! I had to keep motioning for everyone to stand up. They eventually figured it out by the time the final bridesmaid and escort were walking down the aisle. It was so tacky.

    I’m surprised the church hasn’t tried to forbid brides from wearing beautiful white dresses if they aren’t getting married in the temple. If they did — we’d have a lot of stupid people who would listen.

  16. karene says:

    What the writer and commenters do not understand is that in latin american countries and others as well, the law only recognizes civil marriages as the legal one. Religious ceremonies are apt to the parties involved. They are considered religious rites. Ministers do not have legal authorithy from the government to marry, only civil authorities are recognized, therefore in Argentina if you just go to the Temple to be married in the eyes of the law, you are simply not married.

    A lot of murmuring going here again and very little understanding of the church policy on these issue. If we do not understand the Lord’s way of doing things, maybe we should ask him.

    • alex w. says:

      I know, and I think a lot of others here know, that religious ceremonies like temple sealings are not legal marriages in some countries. The idea is that this difference in law, leading to a difference in policy, gives an unintended benefit to members in these countries, and a negative consequence by extension to those of us in countries that do recognize the sealing as a legal marriage because it is connected to the policy of temple sealings as being the only acceptable option, despite family situation. The problem isn’t the difference in federal laws, the problem is in how the church responds to these laws, creating a huge difference in practice for members in difference countries.

  17. karene says:

    By the way, I totally agree with April above, just because we don’t understand the spiritual value of something doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

  18. Janna says:

    “A lot of murmuring going here again and very little understanding of the church policy on these issue. If we do not understand the Lord’s way of doing things, maybe we should ask him.”

    This comment grosses me out. My litmus test for comments that should be allowed on this site is to consider whether it would be allowed at an Exponent II retreat. If a comment such as this were offered at a retreat, it is likely the woman would be asked to leave. Your comment has no place on this website.

  19. Naismith says:

    I think folks may be overstating the satisfaction that non-member families get from seeing a civil ceremony. Argentina is mostly Roman Catholic, and if their families are like my parents, they are going to be in pain that a wedding mass was not performed. Seeing their child sign paperwork at city hall is not going to assuage that pain much.

    And no, the couple can’t go through a mass for the parents’ sake. The catholic church does not lend itself to that kind of mockery. The paperwork and requirements to be married in their church is at least as demanding as for a temple recommend, including swearing that the children will be raised in that faith tradition.

    When my children were married we put on very nice, intimate, meaningful ring ceremonies within hours afterward. While it is true that the bride and groom are not to exchange vows, our young people recited poetry to each other. People talked about how the couple had met, how onlookers knew they were in love, etc. Family members provided music. The non-member family members were very happy with it.

    And as far as the father walking one down the aisle and giving the bride away (as if she were his property!), I would think that feminists would reject that out of hand. Talk about a sexist and ugly tradition. Ugh!

  20. Deborah says:

    He wasn’t “giving me away,” he was walking beside me on the last and first leg wonderful journey. We can repurpose old traditions in beautiful ways, when we choose to.

    It’s not that it’s painful for every part member family, but it is for many. Allowing this option (eliminating the waiting period) — which is already available in other countries — would allow couples to prayerfully choose how to navigate what should be a joyous *family* occasion. If it can minimize tension and lead to greater family harmony — something that is of primary gospel importance — why not? I imagine that within ten years we will quietly see this policy changed … And no one will really notice except for the couples it affects.

  21. Aimee says:

    Your wedding was one of the most beautiful I ever attended, Deborah. I’m still moved when I think about the readings you and Mike chose and the spirit of joy and love that permeated the room. It was a privilege to participate,

    And thank you so much for writing this post, April. One of my deepest regrets is not having my sisters present at my wedding (they were too young) and not being able to share that moment when I joined my life with my husband’s with any of the extended family who had traveled thousands of miles to be there to support me, but who were not members of the Church. The ring ceremony we had after the sealing was lovely, but it could not erase the sting that my family understandably felt from having been excluded from the moment my marriage was solidified. If I could do it over again, I would have had a civil marriage and gotten sealed a year later just to fully enjoy that day with my family, even if it did raise the eyebrows of the few judgmental people who may have read something unchaste into it. How much better it would have been to have been able to marry and get sealed a few days later and avoid so much hurt.

  22. Roxy says:

    I live in the USA and know a couple engaged couples that had pre-marital sex. They did confess to the bishop. They were still able to get married in the temple first. The punishment, waiting period after pre-marital sex is up to the bishop and stake president. I talked to a recently released bishop and he stated there is specific waiting period in the church hanbook for bishops and stake presidents. The couple would have to have the will-power to stop. I seriouly bet more than a few times of pre-marital sex would make temple marriage impossible. But if you get married civily or are a convert you do have to wait a year. It is interesting.

  23. Roxy says:

    *edit: I talked to a recently released bishop and he stated there is NO specific waiting period in the church handbook 1 for bishops and stake presidents. I don’t know if that’s true or not. But I assume it must be for friends to have had pre-marital sex, still get married in the temple and then that previous bishop to quote the handbook. I did get a exact reference from yahoo answers. A non-mormon apparently looked it up on wikileaks: The “Church Handbook of Instructions” says the time period is at the Bishop’s discretion, page 78 in the 2006 version.

  24. Roxy says:

    Lee on 11/19 said: “However, I have been in enough leadership positions (4 yrs as an EQP, ward mission leader, a yr as a finance clerk, and the past year as a stake clerk) to see that often decissions are made based on the bishop/ st. pres. etc. preference. True, there are times when the Spirit clearly directs the outcome, but many times the Lord simply leaves it to the one holding the keys of the priesthood and He backs up that leader…

    That is true! I personally think we should support our priesthood leaders decisions. They are called of God to be judges of Israel and do receive revelation for members.

    Another quote by Lee:
    “It was basically because Pres. Hinckley thought modifying things a bit might make it easier for some people, then Pres. Monson took that idea a little further.”

    That makes sense. I have been trying to figure out why the church seems to be more lenient than in the past. Makes sense with my good friend having pre-marital sex and still being sealed after resolving the matter priesthood authority. I also have a close friend who had pre-martial sex, confessed and still served a mission.

  25. Roxy says:

    Sorry, I am really off topic and misunderstood some of the other comments… I was distracted when reading them.

  26. Xeno says:

    It is okay Roxy. You can say whatever you want as long as it is within the rules of this blog! We are supposed to stick to our own experiences but many people share stories of others.
    Your posts do apply to this article in that some new converts or those are married civily do not have to wait a year. A bishop may be strongly prompted that a couple needs to get sealed sooner. Also, at least one commenter mentioned there own law of chastity issues and post-poning their temple wedding.
    I think people get the year wait for converts/ those who have married civily mixed up with if you have law of chastity issues, even fornication. The time-period/ disciplinary action after breaking the laws of chastity ARE up to the bishop/stake pres. I have heard of some couple’s committing fornication and not having to wait a year or get married civily first. Church Handbook 1 is only distributed to bishops/stake pres.’s. If a bishop told you there is no set time-frame then it is probably true. Plus, you said someone looked it up on wikileaks and gave you the page number. Plus, from your friend’s experience and the experiences of others I have heard about.
    As far as being too lenient goes, years ago the Church was too quick to disfellowship/excommunicate young adults. The result was very few that were disfellowshipped/excomm. made it back into the Church. The change that took place is “we are in the business of saving souls”, and need to be more loving and merciful to those who are sincerely trying to do the right thing/repent.
    As you quoted and Lee stated the Lord leaves these things to those he called to the calling! I stand by our Priesthood leaders and have a testimony of the Priesthood. We are not in a bishop or stake pres.’s shoes. If the spirit prompts a bishop or stake pres. to do something I sure hope they do it.

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