Can Mormons Marry Members of Other Churches? Can They Date Them? I Love a Mormon!by -
I’m often asked if a Mormon (latter-day saint) can be romantically involved with someone of another faith. The purpose of this article is to provide some helpful clarification.
Can a Mormon marry someone of another faith?
There are a number of complicating factors that lead most practicing Mormons to marry members of their own faith. First, Mormonism is not just a religion; its also a culture. Significant cultural differences can complicate a marriage, even when a couple is sincerely in love. Cultural complications may explain why studies show that marriages between Mormons and those of other faiths have remarkably high rates of divorce. On the other hand, marriages between two Mormons, especially when realized in a Mormon temple, have remarkably low rates of divorce. Cultural unity in marriage is very important.
Additionally, marriage plays a much larger role in Mormon theology than in the theology of other Christian religions. While all Christian religions emphasize the importance of marriage, in Mormonism marriage is considered essential for progression in the next life. Specifically, special marriage ceremonies realized in Mormon temples are essential. These ceremonies can only be performed when both the husband and wife are properly prepared. Preparation includes, among other things, baptism and full participation in the LDS faith. Consequently, most practicing Mormons choose to marry members of their own faith for theological reasons as well.
Two kinds of marriage in Mormon culture
With that background, allow me to explain the two kinds of marriage that exist in Mormon culture. The first is called marriage for time. Marriage for time lasts until death do you part. This kind of marriage can be realized between a Mormon and a member of another faith. Marriage for time is often performed by a Mormon bishop in a Mormon chapel and is certainly a very sacred ceremony. It marks the creation of a family unit, the sacred and most fundamental unit of society. However, because marriage for time lasts only until death, in Mormon theology this kind of marriage is not associated with spiritual progression in the next life.
The second kind of marriage is called marriage for eternity, or sealing. Fortunately, those who have been married for time can subsequently choose to be married for eternity, after the proper preparation. Marriage for eternity is also called temple marriage because it is always performed in a Mormon temple. As mentioned above, both the bride and the groom must be properly prepared. This preparation includes baptism, fully living the Mormon lifestyle, keeping Gods commandments, etc. Consequently, a marriage for eternity can only be performed between two members of the LDS Church. These kinds of marriages are thought to last for eternity, even after death. They are associated with a special covenant, or promise with God, that will help the participants progress spiritually after death, the final judgment, and the resurrection.
As you can imagine, most practicing Mormons want to be married in the temple to another Mormon, for eternity, so they can progress spiritually after death. With the exception of those rare members of the Church who cannot have a temple marriage through no fault of their own, the covenants associated with a temple marriage are considered essential. Mormons believe temple worship is a commandment from God. True love alone is not enough for most practicing Mormons. They are also interested in a marriage that is associated with the sacred temple covenants.
Note that the marriage preference most Mormons have for other Mormons has nothing to do with the worthiness of those who do not belong to the LDS faith. There are many good members of other churches, people who are just as good as the most righteous Mormon. However, no matter how kind or just, the many wonderful people of other faiths are not prepared for temple marriage if they have not accepted and fully participated in the ordinances of the restored gospel. Its not a question of merit or worthiness. Its a question of preparation.
What if Im willing to convert to Mormonism?
Its a mistake to convert to any faith just to please another person. However, it is certainly true that many people get to know the LDS Church through boyfriends, girlfriends, family members, etc. These people shouldnt convert just to please their loved ones, but they often do discover for themselves that the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can bring great blessings into their lives. They join because their hearts are sincerely touched. The fact that a human relationship is subsequently facilitated is a secondary consequence of their true conversion.
For those who are contemplating marriage and family life, its also good to know that studies have shown that Mormonism is good for the family. Church participation is correlated with a low divorce rate, higher levels of marital satisfaction, and lower levels of youth delinquency.
If youre romantically interested in someone whos Mormon, I recommend investigating the faith. See if your heart is touched by the message of the restored gospel; see if that message could change your life for the better. Ive recently written another article that can help you learn more. I suggest requesting a visit from the Mormon missionaries and visiting a Mormon chapel to see how we worship.
What if I only want to date a Mormon?
Some Mormons are not willing to date those of other faiths. Again, it has nothing to do with worthiness. Mormons are not better than other people, and they do not have a monopoly on goodness or righteousness. The thinking is merely that you marry the same people you date. If a temple marriage is the goal, and one can only marry a fellow Mormon in the temple, then perhaps it is best to date only Mormons.
Other practicing Mormons do date those of other faiths, as long as they have the same high dating standards that the LDS Church teaches. These standards include:
- No dating until both participants are 16 years old.
- No sexual intercourse.
- No touching intimate areas, above or below clothing.
- No lying on top of another person.
- No passionate kissing.
- No inappropriate conversations or crude language.
- No pornography, including movies that are rated R. Many PG-13 movies are also offensive to Mormons.
Some people think that these activities show love, and some of them do within the confines of a marriage. However, encouraging a Mormon to participate in these activities outside of marriage is not an act of love. Its an act of selfishness. These activities outside of marriage can bring great sorrow and remorse into the life of a Mormon. No one who loves a Mormon would ever encourage him or her to violate core principles. Remember also that the standards for Mormon men and Mormon women are precisely the same.
I hope this overview of Mormon dating and marriage practices helps! Good luck.