Temple Sealing

By: Guy Templeton
January 17, 2013

I was paying extra special attention to the words of the Sealing ceremony at the temple.  The words are nearly identical for both the man and the woman being sealed, but there is one interesting difference.  When a man is sealed to a woman, he is asked to “receive her unto yourself.”  When a woman is being sealed to a man, she is asked to “give herself” to the man, and “receive him unto herself.”  (I probably don’t have the words exactly right, but it is close.)  So the woman gives herself, but both receive the spouse.

Why doesn't the man "give himself" to the woman?

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14 Responses to Temple Sealing

  1. ji on January 17, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    The temple sealing is a beautiful gift to members of the Church. Wherever a gift is given, I hope it can be received with appreciation and with charity for the giver, and in the spirit it is intended. In such a case, there will be harmony and happiness all around, and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Or, one can mock the gift and create a spirit of contention.

    Isn’t the first so much better, and so much more in line with the teachings of the giver of the gift?

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  2. Sherry on January 17, 2013 at 9:41 AM

    My x-husband, whom I was married to for 29 years and was sealed to, used this exact phrase to abuse me. His belief stemmed from this temple ordinance – because I was “given” to him, I therefore was “his” and had to do what he wanted, ie sex on demand which led to years of marital rape, among other abuses. SO…..while the temple is meant to be uplifting and spiritual, it does indeed portray the worst of patriarchy in the LDS church, in my opinion. Couple that with no strong female role models in the temple and Eve being mostly quiet and submissive, as well as women veiling their faces, and you create a perfect storm for men like my X who truly believe the temple shows LDS women their rightful place. Keep in mind that we were the “perfect” Mormon couple/family – active, leadership callings, many children, etc. Yet our marriage was a horror at times, mostly because of X’s interpretation of what the temple teaches…

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  3. Paul on January 17, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    If memory serves, the language for the man is to “take” his spouse and receive her vs. the woman who is to “give” herself and receive him. Slightly more provacative than what you cite in the OP.

    That said, there is PLENTY of contemporary commentary that teaches us the roles of husbands and wives from present prophets, seers and revelators to help us avoid turing this turn of phrase into more than it should mean.

    Further any casual reading of the Doctrine and Covenants (esp. sec. 121) makes clear that abuse of any kind because of priesthood or patriarchal relationships is clearly in opposition to divine teaching and command.

    Sherry, words cannot express the sadness I feel at what you endured at your ex-husband’s unrighteous hand.

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  4. Katie88 on January 17, 2013 at 12:25 PM

    I have talked to a number of women who tell me that their husbands use some of the verbage in the temple session to abuse them emotionally and/or physically. Since my husband is a kind and caring man, it saddens me that some women are oppressed by their husbands who assume that the words in the temple endowment and sealing give them ownership, control, and absolute dominion over their wives.

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  5. MH on January 17, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Ditto what Paul said.

    I must say that I had a hard time choosing between “relic of polygamy” and “patriarchy.” Both are true, IMO. If both husband and wives give themselves to each other, it would easily remove both the relic and patriarchy from the equation, IMO. (It’s funny what a few words can do to change the whole meaning.)

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  6. Sherry on January 17, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    Paul, thank you for your kind words. It’s been over ten years since my divorce but to this day I can’t do sealings. I even spoke with my TP a couple of years ago with many of my concerns and received a less than cordial response. The temple is no longer a place that feels welcome and safe, to me as a woman. Katie, I’m old enough to have known women who experienced similar treatment from their husbands, based on the temple verbiage. I simply cannot figure out WHY examples such as this continue to happen in the LDS church. For myself, I believe a just Father and Mother are not like this. Women are not property to be “given” to men. It does raise the ugly spector of polygamy – read D & C 132 for example. While I’m still LDS, I rarely attend the temple. I married a kind and respectful NOMO with whom I am very happy. In my heart I can’t imagine Mother and Father telling him he is not worthy of me in the eternities, simply because he never joined the LDS church and was not sealed to me. New DH treats me 1000% better than “righteous LDS X” ever did. My experience with X and with the temple ceremonies have caused me to deeply ponder who and what Mother and Father are really like and I have to say my beliefs have changed from what is usually taught in the church.

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  7. LDS Anarchist on January 17, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    The temple sealing seals the woman exclusively to the man. She is bound to him exclusively. He is bound to her non-exclusively. This allows him to take additional wives without sinning (if the church and state would permit it.)

    There are no vows of monogamy in the temple since it is based upon these ancient marriage rites given to the Jews. That’s why section 132 speaks of adultery in two different ways. For a married woman, she commits adultery if she is with another man. For a married man, he commits adultery if he has taken a vow of monogamy (of exclusivity) and is with another woman. The temple rite does not have a man taking a vow of monogamy or of exclusivity, so if a man wanted to take such a vow with his temple married wife, he would have to do it separately, in which case he would now be bound exclusively to her. On the other hand, section 132 indicates that the Lord considers that every marriage ceremony, whether within or without the temple, binds a woman exclusively to her husband.

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  8. MH on January 17, 2013 at 4:03 PM

    LDSA, interesting interpretation. We know that women can be sealed to multiple men posthumously. Under current understanding, she gets to choose who she lives with in the next life, but presumably, she could choose multiple men. Also, there is a vague reference in D&C 132:51 in which Emma may have asked to be sealed to William Marks. Can you expand on that? If Emma had taken up the offer immediately, then theoretically she could have been sealed to both Joseph and William. Can you expand on that?

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  9. Joseph McKnight on January 17, 2013 at 4:49 PM

    to Poster #1, have you ever heard the expression, “gag a maggot in a gut wagon.” Well, that’s how I felt whilst reading your posting. God gave us the sealing gift, yes, I agree, but it was interpreted through the brain of Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets, all of who admit to the mistakes of receiving revelation from an omniscient being when we have such a flawed language and a flawed social filter. To say that we shouldn’t question the gift’s mistakes, which are coming to light by the grace of the same God who gave it to us, like so many other wonderful “light” that is coming into being in our glorious age, is as much a disrespectful receiver of the gift as anyone. God has given us new light in an enlightened society of women and men being equal in marriage and that is how God wants it to be updated. It’s our own pride that prevents the gift from being changed right now.

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  10. hawkgrrrl on January 17, 2013 at 5:27 PM

    Polygamy is patriarchal, so like Mormon Heretic, I too hard a hard time choosing. I went with polygamy relic. I believe LDSA’s explanation is correct per the historical sealing vows. Gag a maggot, indeed. I definitely found it unsettling at the time, but even rom-coms in the 1980s were about wives “obeying” their husband in traditional wedding vows, so it’s not like I never expected patriarchal crap to enter into marriage vows. But it is not binding in the way it is stated, IMO, if our Heavenly Parents truly care about their children of both sexes. A just God will not condone men to abuse or neglect their wives because the wife is his, but he is not hers.

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  11. Rigel Hawthorne on January 17, 2013 at 6:50 PM

    As I recall, hasn’t the wording of the endowment changed from having sisters covenant to obey the ‘law of their husbands’ to the ‘law of the Lord”? I remember a sister expressing relief that at least that had been changed because the older language also had been in her life experience used in the same way that Sherry has described to commit abuse.

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  12. Moss on January 17, 2013 at 8:50 PM

    Rigel- The changed language of that covenant isn’t much of an improvement, if I understand correctly (I first received my endowments in 2003, so I’m not very familiar with the older version). There is some added nuance, I believe the intent is the same.

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  13. Anon on January 17, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    I don’t believe the wording was ever “obey the law of the husband” but the change was from obeying the husband to hearkening to him as he hearkened to the Lord. For those interested in the exact changes, I know they were easily available online, side-by-side, several years ago. I was endowed in the early 70′s, and the comparisons looked accurate to me.

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  14. Rigel Hawthorne on January 18, 2013 at 7:29 PM


    The side by side comparison with reference to the pre-1990 version seems to validate my memory, not to say that I am happy about that.


    Even if you don’t call it much of an improvement, it’s better than what it was…

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