Yes, or I Do?

By: Guy Templeton
May 1, 2014

President Monson

I was recently performing sealings in the temple.  We took a short break and the temple sealer asked if anyone had any questions.  During sealings, temple patrons are instructed that when we covenant to each other, we are supposed to say “Yes” rather than “I Do” as is done in other Christian weddings.  I asked the sealer if he knew why the LDS Church makes such a big deal about saying Yes instead of I Do.

He responded that he didn’t know why.  He said he heard a story (so I don’t know if this is accurate or not) that President Monson, when performing a sealing between two LDS members of the military said that they could respond “Yes, Aye, I do, or any other way in the affirmative.”  Are the LDS just trying to be different with “I Do”?

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22 Responses to Yes, or I Do?

  1. Rb on May 1, 2014 at 9:39 PM

    Probably. Ranks up there with our silly aversion to the universally accepted symbol of Christianity: the Cross. We are all in with other apostate Christian practices like Christmas in December and a Christmas tree but recoil in horror at the sight of a cross as a symbol of our living Saviour or bask in smug self righteousness that we honor a living Jesus.

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  2. hawkgrrrl on May 1, 2014 at 11:22 PM

    We do like to be contrarians at times. I think Yes is a bit passive. I like that “I do” implies action, taking charge of one’s decision.

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  3. Mormon Heretic on May 2, 2014 at 12:12 AM

    President Kimball’s favorite slogan was “Do it.” It wasn’t “yes”. I don’t understand why “yes” is so much better.

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  4. Hedgehog on May 2, 2014 at 1:16 AM

    It’s a long time since I heard “I do” at a wedding. It seems to have been replaced with “Will you…?”, “I will.” ymmv I guess. Either way, better than “yes”.

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  5. Hedgehog on May 2, 2014 at 1:27 AM

    to clarify… I think I’ve only heard “I do” in film, not at a real wedding…

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  6. IDIAT on May 2, 2014 at 5:20 AM

    Consistency and language constraints, maybe? I think most foreigners would reply “yes” as opposed to “I do” or “I will.” I would be interested to know how the consent question is asked and answered in civil ceremonies in other non-English speaking countries.

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  7. IDIAT on May 2, 2014 at 7:33 AM

    Might it also be done to remain consistent with the answers given in the endowment?

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  8. Hedgehog on May 2, 2014 at 7:40 AM

    IDIAT, see (https://www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/cms/content/vows-and-promises-your-wedding) for items that must be included legally in Britain (legal declarations and contracting words). Apparently there’s a choice of traditional, modern or simplified.

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  9. Last Lemming on May 2, 2014 at 8:00 AM

    I suspect it follows from Matthew 5:37 (which relates to swearing oaths): “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

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  10. rb on May 2, 2014 at 8:12 AM

    I was told by the sealer who sealed me and my wife we use “yes” to distinguish ourselves from other wedding ceremonies. He had a twinkle in his eye as he explained the distinction. To that point I was prepared and expecting to say “I do.” This was 25 yrs ago and I am still happily married. I chalk it up to saying yes across the altar and almost every day since then. lol.

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  11. The Other Clark on May 2, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    Either is better than “I suppose,” or “If I have to.”

    Add to the list of nonsensical contrarian practices:
    * The extremely limited range of acceptable worship music instruments (no trumpets!)
    * Virtual ban on stained glass in all churches built in the last 100 years
    * Artistic representation of winged angels

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  12. New Iconoclast on May 2, 2014 at 9:34 AM

    There’s no difference between the two. The traditional form is a specific answer to the traditional question, as found in the Roman Catholic rite and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, as adapted by many Protestant churches, and pretty standard in the English-speaking world until the latter part of the 20th century when people started to write their own vows. “Will [Do] you, [name], take so-and-so to be your lawful wedded [husband/wife],” blah blah blah. Saying “I will [do]” or saying “Yes” are both grammatically correct and legally binding ways of answering that question. You’re simply participating in ritual.

    The temple sealing is no less ritual, despite its penchant for “simple ritual” (if that’s not kind of an oxymoron). I suppose you could ask the sealer going in if he would be OK with “I will [do]” instead of “Yes.”

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  13. Jeff Spector on May 2, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    Boy, I’m glad I didn’t stay up all night worrying about this one! Either answer is the same. So the LDS tradition is “yes” while some other traditions are “I do.”

    So what! IMO, yes is a much more affirmative answer than “I do.”

    This is just more fodder for the complaint machine.

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  14. hawkgrrrl on May 2, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    Jeff: I didn’t think anyone was complaining about it. Just wondering why we do it differently. At the end of the day, my guess is that nobody really truly cares.

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  15. Hedgehog on May 2, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    Jeff, I think, at least here, there might be some requirement to use the same verb as was used in the question. The current legal bits (even those designated traditional) seem to be much simplified from the book of common prayer version, but still, from the link I gave above, there is still a pattern of using the same verb. From the simplified version of the legal declarations:
    The Registrar asks: “Are you (your full name) free, lawfully, to marry (your partner’s full name)?” You reply “I am.”

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  16. New Iconoclast on May 2, 2014 at 11:58 AM

    “Much a-yes about nothing,” Jeff.

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  17. Jeff Spector on May 2, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Hedge,

    “I think, at least here, there might be some requirement to use the same verb as was used in the question.”

    I don’t think we have that here. There was a talk circulating around called, “Will you?” with the idea that asking the question “Will You?” engendered a higher level of commitment and thus it was used by Mission Presidents and such to gain the commitment to act.

    Still can be answered as a “yes,” but I think they were looking for a military-style , “I WILL!”

    Kind of reminded me of the old first vision film where Joseph is planting corn and pondering the “Ask of God” scripture. and he throws up the corn seed, and yells, “I will, I will.”

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  18. Jeff Spector on May 2, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    Hawk,

    ” I didn’t think anyone was complaining about it.”

    I didn’t either ,but it just leave the blog open to the usual complaints about church traditions somehow repressing people……. and the inevitable laundry list that follows….. :)

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  19. Nick Literski on May 2, 2014 at 2:05 PM

    If not for the seriousness of entering into a marital commitment, I’d be almost tempted to say “Sure, why not?” just to see his reaction! Hehehe!

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  20. fbisti on May 2, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    1971, Oakland temple. No pre-instruction of how to respond. I said “I do.” My wife said “Yes.” Sealer made no comment.

    And, Jeff #18: I take some enjoyment from criticizing repressive and thoughtless church traditions. They can be quite useless and even harmful. Griping about them is the least we can do.

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  21. Left Field on May 2, 2014 at 7:24 PM

    The first time I did sealings, the sealer went a thousand miles an hour, then stopped abruptly. He looked at me. I looked at him. I had no idea why he had stopped. I had no idea he’d even asked a question. (And in fact, the “question” is just a statement with a question mark at the end.) He looked at me expectantly. I looked at him, not knowing why the ceremony had come to an abrupt halt. Finally, he asked, “Will you?” Apparently there was a question somewhere in there. Eventually, I decided the answer was more likely “yes” than “no,” so that’s what I went with.

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  22. Mark Shields on May 8, 2014 at 11:13 AM

    I have thought – but it’s just my thought – that Matthew 5:33-38 may be the doctrinal basis for one word yes or no answers for oaths.

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