Texts for a Not-Exactly-Wedding

So, I’m working on “Familiar Vows,” a short-story about André and Lelia’s ceremony in Utah. Which is not technically a wedding, because she is not a member of the church. Without being a member in good standing and meeting a few other qualifications, Lelia won’t receive the recommendation for a Temple wedding. André said he would not push her about joining the church, and that stands. However, there are a few officially-approved options, and many Latter-day Saints couples who do have a Temple wedding have something else for friends and family who are not able to attend the religious ceremony.

That’s what André and Lelia plan to do. Provided that the Universe/Fate/whatever doesn’t decide to pull a fast one on them. This means planning something that does not include religious vows, but does have some religious elements in it. And that does not, most certainly not, use First Corinthians 13 in it, because Lelia and André (and Tay and Rodney) agree that 1) it is overdone and 2) it’s really not about the union of a man and a woman in holy matrimony. And not the verses from Ruth, either, for a similar reason. So, what texts do they consider?

André insists on First Nephi 8: 9-12, about the Tree of Life. It is one of his favorite passages in the Book of Mormon, and he loves the image of the Tree of Life and the River of Life. He likes it so much that one of his cousins makes a solo arrangement of Mack Wilburg’s “Tree of Life” choral anthem and that is the music sung and played at one point in the ceremony. Both André and Lelia like Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) 2: 8-12 about “My beloved spoke and sayeth unto me, ‘Rise up my love my fair one, and come away, for lo, the winter is past, the rains are over and done . . .’ ” The officiant approves of both those choices, as well as the music.

Psalm eight is another choice, this time Lelia’s, including the portions André quoted that night in the park in Phoenix. The presiding minister, Bishop James Ryder from André’s parents’ congregation, vetoes Psalm 144:1-2, so they compromise on Psalm 91. Both André and Lelia have heard Psalm 23 at too many funerals, so that one is a non-starter, as are the verses in Ephesians and other Epistles about “wives, obey your husbands.” Lelia, Tay, and Rodney veto them. “I love you, gentle sir, but I dislike how those verses are misused,” Lelia tells her husband. He, being a wise man, says, “Then we will not use them.”

The preaching texts come from Genesis, Revelation 12: 7-9, and Proverbs 31. Grandmother Priesterson loves Proverbs 31. Bishop Ryder isn’t entirely pleased with the St. Michael verses from Revelation, but he’s not all that unhappy, either. Not speaking on First Corinthians Thirteen is actually a bit of a relief and a welcome challenge, although he does not tell André and Lelia. Beyond that? We’ll see in the story.

23 thoughts on “Texts for a Not-Exactly-Wedding

  1. Texts can be tricky, particularly their interpretation.

    I’m reminded of a Sergeant-Major in the South African army, who was present at a church parade where the passage from Matthew 21 was read, about Jesus cursing the fig tree. Afterwards, before marching us away, he mused aloud, “You know, that just proves Jesus knew some swear words even I don’t know!”

    • Omniscient, omnipotent, omnifluent . . . (Aaaand now I have this very irreverent mental image of the Pentecost, and one of the Apostles speaking in Roman Army to the soldiers in Jerusalem . . .)

      • *brain supplies a Sailor version of the same*

        Oh, goodness. That is… creative? And infectious. I must spring it on my husband at some point.

        Reminds me of a guy who did adult Shakespeare classes and said the part that reached folks the most was when he re-did a famous chunk in the form of “What a f*ing piece of work is a man, how noble in f*ing reason, how infinite in f*ing faculties-” with the f-bomb for emphasis, and then it stuck in their mind so they were able to deliver it with the correct sort of passion.
        (I probably misplaced some of them, the only one I’m sure of is “what an f-ing piece of work is man.”)

  2. Ephesians would still be a good choice, but for their personal reasons, including the part about husbands being attentive to their wives. Lelia already agreed to obey Andre’s judgement in critical things (wise of her), which is what the passage involves. I suspect that Grandmother would quietly approve, but be trying not to burst out laughing at the double-takes. This reinforces the “traditional wife” salient given in Intensely Familiar. Someone from the local ward will ask Back Home; someone’s second cousin on the other side had a child there, who heard the Ephesians text about obedience, and reports Outside. Traditional oriented, Ephesians used in the ceremony, but she’s a rebellious … what? Great consternation continues, to the delight of the goths.

    An Apostle speaking fluent Centurion and Triari, with Authority? He’d literally blast their armor clean. They’d brace-to and salute harder than for their own Legate, and only wonder about it later.

  3. I’m more than a bit convinced that the “obey” is mostly there to keep down the number of vendettas.
    Not endlessly relitigating things that happened years ago, is just a potential bonus. (And unfortunately, doomed to failure. It’s a trap!)

  4. Is it safe to ask when we can purchase it (and the other stories)? 😉

    • Perhaps late July or early August? I’m eight pages into the title story, have the draft of one other story done, and need to type my hand-written pages of a third story.

  5. When an LDS member marries a nonmember, or even when two members are for some reason not qualified to go to the temple, they may be married civilly by the bishop or any other authority recognized by the government. For the duration of mortality, it’s considered just as legal and lawful as a temple wedding. (This has occurred on four occasions, in my immediate family). The wording of the ceremony is prescribed in the Church’s Handbook of Instructions, and no, that doesn’t say ‘obey’ either. The only reason Andre and Lelia couldn’t call it a wedding is…they’re already legally married. Now, if the family wants to have a wedding-like religious-flavored ceremony, there seems to be no current provision for it or prohibition of it; that seems to be left to the discretion of the Bishop.
    The benefits of a temple wedding (or sealing, for those already married civilly, and that happens quite often) seem to be chiefly postmortal.

    • That latter is what I gleaned as well. Most of the sources I’ve looked at range from mildly firm to exceedingly firm that the temple sealing is the true marriage in the spiritual sense, and recommend that a different term be used for other wedding-like things that the couple might choose to do.

  6. Although the distinction between a civil wedding and a temple sealing is an important one, I’ve never heard a recommendation that a different term be used for ordinary civil weddings. Another wrinkle you may or may not wish to address is that the Church (as well as, usually, the state) has a residency requirement. Normally a bishop would need permission of the First Presidency to perform a marriage of a church member who is not currently a member of his ward, although if it’s a wedding-like thing instead of a redundant legal civil marriage, that restriction probably doesn’t apply, either.

    • I’m probably not going to mention it. The bishop has been in communication with André’s current congregation, and some of André’s family have been grumbling to the bishop, including complaints about the couple being magic users. The bishop will check to make sure that André and Lelia understand things, and confirm that they are aware of the church’s teachings about magic use. With that background, and the ceremony being more of a confirmation and a reminder of what a marriage is, rather than a legal or sealing ceremony, it’s OK for the Provo bishop to officiate (per the teachings of the church in the story world. I’ll probably add a few lines in the Author’s Notes reminding readers that real-world church teachings are not necessarily those of any denomination discussed in the stories.)

      • Well, I *did* check the Church Handbook of Instructions (it’s available online) for current policy, and given those stipulations, I don’t see any red flags. although it might seem Odd to the more strictly orthodox. There have been so many authors (notably in the 19th century) that grossly distorted LDS teaching, that it’s pleasant to see an author respectful enough to try to get it right.

    • *raises hand*

      I’ve seen it– roughly parallels the Catholic folks who will get snippy about a convalidation (Catholic blessing on an existing marriage, most commonly used when a couple as married outside of the church) vs a wedding Mass, with both sides being quite nasty at times about the other being unacceptably wrong. (can you hear the tired in that phrasing? Yes, I am that idiot who gets looped into standing there, pissing off both sides, telling them that even if they think the other is wrong, they’re allowed to exist, and be a member of the same faith.)

      Very, very sub-sub culture type thing, seems to flow out of family politics.

  7. At my wedding the pastor went for Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. I suppose it’s debatable whether that one is about a man and a woman either, but at least there’s some evidence on the “yes it is” side.

  8. The policy used to be that, (except in countries where temple marriages were not civilly recognized) a couple had to wait a year after being civilly married before they could be married in the Temple. This was something of a hardship where the families of the groom or bride were not members, and the couple desired to be married ‘properly’ in the temple. The alternate not-exactly-a-wedding arrangements weren’t highly satisfactory to anyone, and the restriction has since been dropped.

  9. Why do I get the feeling the stupid will be strong in this one??? 😀 The mealy mouthing around various religious ceremonies not the least being a wedding is just beyond abhorrent. I really don’t think the man upstairs decreed any of the BS that goes on. Mormons and Catholics seem to be the worst and don’t you DARE question them… sigh

  10. I gather that the stupid *is* strong in some of Andre’s family. Yes, Mormons have zealots too. Although since TXRed hasn’t grown up in the culture, there may be bits of nuance that she misses, she seems to be exercising due care to be respectful of LDS belief.

    • It occurs to me that TXRed knows someone who is a Mormon, and is a fellow author as well. And I wouldn’t be surprised if she has already consulted with him.

  11. “Arise, my love” is one of the passages used at my older brother’s Catholic wedding. I composed a setting before Mass also, and it came out nice.

    Songs is a really fun thing to study, because it turns out that in the Hebrew there are a LOT more quotes and near-quotes, from other Bible books, about God and Israel included than I thought. So basically, the whole game is the poet having fun about God and the Bride, versus the normal sort of lovesongs in circulation about human men and their brides, or kings and their brides.

  12. Of course, the actual wedding hymn for most of the Middle Ages in the West was a fun little song of Christological titles (including “Bridegroom”, which was why it was used), but the psalmic reference of “Worm” makes it unlikely to be used today, even by rabid Scadians.

    (“Alma chorus Domini”, which is pretty obscure today.)

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