A little over two weeks ago, my lovely Florina and I were “sealed” together in holy matrimony at the LDS Temple in Los Angeles. This is the crowning ordinance of the LDS faith, and we had dozens of friends on hand to witness the ceremony. The sealing itself was very beautiful, very moving – and very Israelite.
A high priest married us by the power of the Israelite priesthood for “time and all eternity,” the meaning of which will probably take a lifetime to comprehend. For Florina and me, there is no “till death do us part” – we’ve made a commitment to each other for forever. In addition, we were promised the blessings of “Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” to accompany us in this life and the next. We were also given the Adamic injunction to be fruitful and multiply, which we will do our best to follow. Tears flowed down our cheeks for much of the ceremony, and we will always remember the sweet spirit that was present in the sealing room.
Truth be told, the sealing was a little bittersweet for both of us because no family members were present. Only faithful Mormon adults can attend a temple sealing, and none of our relatives fit that description. Thanks to Skype, relatives in Michigan and Romania were able to see us in our dress and tuxedo on the big day. While it’s easy to understand the church’s policy in theory, you can’t help but feel your stomach sink a bit when you enter the sealing room on the happiest day of your life and don’t see the faces of people who’ve known you since birth. Before my wedding, I was a little envious of Mormons who live in countries like Mexico where a civil ceremony is required in addition to a religious marriage. Non-Mormon Mexican moms and dads get to cry their eyes out at the civil ceremony, while the couple can go to the temple afterwards and get sealed in the presence of their faithful coreligionists. However, after experiencing the sealing power firsthand, I have come to understand in a powerful way that no other ceremony is necessary.
I invited several Jewish guests to the wedding luncheon following the sealing, and one of them asked me beforehand whether I would be breaking a glass in the Jewish tradition at the meal. At first, I thought it might be nice to acknowledge my philo-Semitism in such a public way at a gathering of close friends. However, after further consideration I decided to leave my glass intact for the following reason: Jews break glasses at weddings in remembrance of the Israelite temple destroyed 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem. If I come to the luncheon after having been sealed to my wife in a modern Israelite temple, one of nearly 140 in operation worldwide, what reason would I have to break a glass?
We spent our honeymoon visiting LDS historical sites and temples in 15 states, which I would highly recommend as a start to an eternal marriage. The highlight of the trip was a wedding dinner hosted by my family in Michigan, at which Florina was formally adopted into the Paredes clan.
The most common piece of marriage advice that I’ve been given is to marry above your station, then do what your wife tells you to do. I’ve done the first, and am striving mightily to do the second (at least most of the time). With the help of the God of Israel, Florina and I hope to make our marriage an eternal one. As the saying goes, well begun is half done.
Mark Paredes is a member of the Jewish Relations Committee of the LDS Church’s Southern California Public Affairs Council. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jewsandmormons.