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Mormon Temple Sealingsby Paul V. Hyer
A "sealing," as a generic term, means the securing, determining, or establishment of a bond of legitimacy. Among members of the LDS Church, sealing refers to the marriage of a husband and wife and to the joining together of children and parents in relationships that are to endure forever. This special type of sealing of husband and wife in marriage is referred to as "eternal marriage" or "celestial marriage." It contrasts with civil and church marriages, which are ceremonies recognized only by earthly authority and are only for the duration of mortal life.
The sealing together of husband, wife, and children in eternal family units is the culminating ordinance of the priesthood, to which all others are preparatory. It must be performed by one holding the sealing power and today in an LDS temple dedicated to God. The Savior referred to this sealing power when he gave his apostle Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, saying that "whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven" (Matt. 16:19). In modern times this sealing authority was restored to the earth in the Kirtland Temple on April 3, 1836, by the prophet Elijah, who was the ancient custodian of this power (D&C 110:13-16).
Both ancient and modern prophets have observed that if families are not sealed together in eternal unitsif the hearts of the children and the fathers are not turned to each other (as alluded to in Malachi 4:5-6)then the ultimate work and glory of God are not attained and the highest purposes of the creation of the earth are not achieved. "For we without them [ancestors or progenitors] cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect" (D&C 128:16-18).
To Latter-day Saints, the spirit world is as real as this world. By divine mandate, temple sealings are not only available to living persons, but are extended also to the deceased progenitors of a family through proxy ordinances performed in the temples. This process is known as salvation of the dead. Children born to parents who have been sealed in the temple are born in the covenant and thus are bonded to their parents for eternity without a separate ordinance of sealing.
To receive temple sealing ordinances, Church members must receive a temple recommend from a proper Church authority attesting that they are living prescribed Church standards. They then visit a temple and receive initiatory ordinances and the blessing referred to as the temple Endowment. This entails the receipt of instruction and being put under covenant to obey eternal laws set forth by God, which, as observed, will ensure a superior standard of morality, marriage, and family life. The sealing ordinances can then be administered, the full benefit of which can be secured only by continued obedience to the divine laws set forth in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
A sealing ceremony is an inspiring and solemn ordinance performed in specially designated and dedicated rooms of a temple. The couple to be married or the family to be sealed kneel at an altar. The officiator is one who has received the sealing power under the highest priesthood authority in the Church (see Prophet, Seer, and Revelator; Sealing Power; Cancellation of Sealings).
For members of the Church, sealings endow life with greater purpose and give marriage a sense of divine partnership with spiritual safeguards. Bringing children into the world becomes a divinely inspired stewardship. Sealings can sustain a family in life and console them in death. They establish continuity in life, here and hereafter.
Derrick, Royden G. In Temples in the Last Days, chap. 3. Salt Lake City, 1988.
Smith, Joseph Fielding. DS 2:119. Salt Lake City, 1954-1956.
Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord, pp. 84-91. Salt Lake City, 1976
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 3, Sealing, Temple
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company