Can Couples Sealed in a Mormon Temple Get “Unsealed”?
Yes, for just as Jesus empowered his apostles that “whatsoever ye bind (seal) on earth shall be bound (sealed) in heaven,” so too he declared “and whatsoever ye loose (unseal) on earth shall be loosed (unsealed) in heaven” (Matthew 18:18).
Marriages in Mormon temples are meant to be eternal covenants. Children born into those marriages are meant to be sealed to their parents for eternity. Mormon temple sealings are also meant to seal the participants into God’s eternal family. Those who continue in worthiness and charity (defined as the “pure love of Christ”) may inherit the highest kingdom of heaven, where God dwells, and where marriages and families can continue.
The divorce rate for Mormon temple marriages is about 7%, too high, but much lower than the divorce rate for religious people of all faiths (25%) and the general American population (about 50%). Any divorce is lamentable, as the break-up of families causes devastation to both spouses and their children, but the break-up of a temple marriage is even sadder. Grounds for the break up of a temple marriage must be more serious than irreconcilable differences, and sometimes the break up is due to serious sin without repentance.
If a temple-married member of the Church believes he or she has grounds to be unsealed from his or her spouse, he or she must first meet with the bishop (like a pastor) of the ward (congregation) to determine, through discussion, fasting, and prayer, if alternatives to unsealing might be appropriate. If no appropriate alternatives are found, the bishop refers the member to the stake president (who administrates a regional group of wards) for further consultation. Should the stake president and the member be unsuccessful in finding alternatives, the stake president prepares the necessary documentation to refer the matter to the First Presidency of the Church, consisting of the president and prophet of the Church and his two counselors, who are also apostles.
If the First Presidency concurs that the reasons for unsealing the couple are legitimate, the president places his signature on a document entitled “Cancellation of Temple Sealing,” which is then mailed to the stake president, who then conveys it to the member. The member is thereby officially unsealed from his or her spouse. The unsealing of the parents as spouses does not necessarily affect the sealing of the children to each of their parents. The disposition of the sealing of the children to their parents will ultimately be decided by the Lord himself, since only he has all knowledge of the persons and circumstances concerned.
Often the sealing is left in place until the complaining party has the opportunity to wed again in the Mormon temple, because the power and blessings that accompany this temple covenant are so desirable, that they should stay in place as long as possible.
It is certain that the Lord will decide such issues with perfect love, justice, and mercy. No child or adult will be unfairly treated in the Day of Judgment when the Lord Himself will determine the status of all sealings. On Judgment Day, no person will remain sealed to someone who doesn’t truly love that person nor whom they do not truly love, nor will any worthy person who was single on the earth remain unsealed in eternity if he or she desires to be united in matrimony. For each of these worthy persons, the Lord will provide an equally worthy and loving companion for eternity.
*This article has been adapted from Mormons Under a Microscope, by D. Lauritsen, Cedar Fort, Inc., Springville, Utah, 2010, pp. 15, 16.