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My life experiences have given me a great appreciation for the temple. My great love for the temple stems in part from the example of my maternal grandmother, Anna Hirsche. I received my endowment in 1969 at the age of 20 after having been called to serve in the Chile Santiago Mission, but my temple attendance increased dramatically when my mother-in-law Joan Hodge Savage was married to R. Avard Toone in 1998.

Joan Hodge was born on October 31st, 1931 in Bridport, England. Joan became interested in the Church during her teenage years, but her mother didn’t allow her to be baptized. Joan met Gordon Stewart Savage (who was born in Cardston, Alberta on November 23rd, 1921), the son of Edwin and Nelly Savage. Joan and Gordon met in England and then returned to Alberta to be married. After they were married on October 24th, 1950, Joan was baptized as her husband could then give her permission. Joan and Gordon were sealed on May 24th, 1951 in Cardston, Alberta only seven months after their civil marriage. They had five children together, though three of them died shortly after birth. Gordon died on July 25th, 1988 in Nanaimo, British Columbia, but was buried in Lethbridge. Joan then moved back to Magrath and eventually to Cardston.

Reed Avard Toone (Avard) was born on March 6th, 1921 in Claresholm, Alberta. He married Elizabeth Hettie Chatterton on October 3rd, 1945. He was a successful farmer and also a devout temple worker. They had eight children. Elizabeth died on January 6th, 1998 in Cardston, after battling an illness for nearly 10 years. Prior to her death, Avard and Elizabeth kept two households: one in Claresholm where Avard served as a patriarch, and one in Cardston, where he served as an ordinance worker and sealer in the temple. Claresholm is about two hours by car from Cardston. They lived in Cardston from Wednesday afternoon to Saturday evening, according to this temple shift. They lived in Claresholm from Sunday to Wednesday. As Elizabeth grew increasingly ill, Joan Savage (nee Hodge), (also lived in Cardston) was called to help Avard transcribe and edit his patriarchal blessings. Avard often reviewed the blessings to make sure he had used the correct words to pass on sentiment and message he desired. Joan was also a temple worker and became involved in helping look after Avard and Elizabeth when they were in Cardston. When Elizabeth died, Avard and Joan’s relationship quickly became less formal and by April of 1998, they were ready to consider marriage.

The President of the Cardston Alberta Temple at that time was President Joseph E. Jack. He and Avard had become fast friends. There was no doubt that Avard and Joan would be married in the temple with President Jack officiating, but the type of marriage that would take place was in question. Of course, the simplest route would be to marry Avard and Joan for time in the temple and be done with it. Given that both Avard and Joan were longtime temple workers, this was not their first choice. If Joan would cancel her sealing to Gordon (which Avard suggested) they then could be married for time and all eternity. Joan did not want a cancellation of her sealing to Gordon. Joan felt there was nothing amiss with her in place sealing to Gordon. They had grown closer over the years, sharing the burden of burying three children and raising two others to adulthood. While Gordon had been sick for some 10 years from barium poisoning, Joan had also nursed him in the hospital until his death.

As Avard explained, a third option was presented to them by President Jack. President Jack told Avard if each of their children would write a letter in support of their being married for time and all eternity without Joan cancelling her previous sealing--if all the children on both sides agreed--that sealing for Joan could take place.

Joan had two living daughters, both of who would have affirmed the sealing for time and eternity between Joan and Avard. However, some of Avard’s children felt he had rushed into this marriage with Joan and were somewhat skeptical, as well as less active. In the end, it was decided Joan and Avard would not pursue an eternal sealing, but a sealing for time only. Avard and Joan were married for time by President Jack on April 11th, 1998 in the Cardston Alberta Temple.

Soon after Avard and Joan’s sealing for time only, it was discovered that Joan had a cancerous tumor. Joan died on October 28th, 2004 in Cardston Alberta. Avard died on March 12th, 2006 in Cardston. Arrangements were made and Avard and Joan were sealed for time and eternity posthumously on April 6th, 2007 in the Cardston Temple.

Avard and I discussed this third option on more than one occasion, and about a week before he died, we revisited the topic again. I asked him if this third option was something between President Jack and himself, as they were close friends, and he assured me that is the way things could be done.

It has not been very many years ago that the idea of a woman being sealed to more than one man was a foreign subject. As the director of the Stake Family History Center, this subject was broached often, eventually members understood that after death, a woman may be sealed to more than one man, if the family so desired it. This was from the Temple Ready instructions. This had been in place for about 15 or so years at the time I served in that calling. The idea that a woman could be sealed to two men while living--with the approval of all children--was a new concept to me at the time, which is why I visited the topic several times and even shortly before my new father-in-law died. I do not know if this option is really a common practice or not, but he had the temple related experience to know.

In 1894 when the Law of Adoption was phased out in favor of family sealings, sealing got both simpler and more complex. Under the Law of Adoption both men and women were sealed to prominent men, but after 1894 it fell upon couples to live worthy to have their children sealed to them, and the couple to be sealed to their own parents. Last December 4th, 2016, I had a conversation with Elder Weatherford L. Clayton about my personal sealing to spouse. I had been excommunicated and looking forward to rebaptism and a future restoration of temple blessings and priesthood authority. Elder Clayton told me that while my sealing to spouse was not cancelled per se, I should have no expectation of living in the post-mortal sphere as if I had my particular spouse eternally sealed. She had her sealing to spouse and I had mine, but that did not mean we would be a “couple” unit through eternity. This seemed to indicate that a sealing was perhaps more important in the eternal nature of things, than to whom the sealing was to in this life. Indeed, how else do we explain the pre-1894 Law of Adoption and the premise upon which it was based?

Full Citation for this Article: Moore, Dale G. (2017) "Sealing of Living Women to More Than One Husband: Has There Always Been a Third Option?," SquareTwo, Vol. 10 No. 3 (Fall 2017), http://squaretwo.org/Sq2ArticleMooreSealingWomen.html, accessed <give access date>.

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COMMENTS: 1 Comment

I. Barry J. Spurlock

I love reading most of what is written in this journal, but I can’t help but think this article gets the policy wrong when it comes to this individuals story. I submitted this article to my father who is in the local Stake Presidency and he stated that the policy is as follows:

When a woman wants to get sealed to another man after her first husband has passed, the children on both sides of the family (i.e. the children of the first AND second man) have to write letters to Salt Lake and unanimously agree that she can be sealed to the new man. The sealing to her first husband is still cancelled, but the children still remain as if they were born under the covenant (so the conclusion of the article is still correct).

My father said he had just dealt with a situation exactly the same as the one listed in this article and said that is the policy that Salt Lake came back with. My concern is that this journal may or may not have published faulty information that may or may not give people false hope. I would appreciate it if more solid sources were given instead of what was given in the article.

Again, I agree with the conclusion though.