Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why aren't there groom's rooms in temples?

One thing that I find odd is that there are Bride's rooms in LDS temples but no groom's rooms.  I think the lack of groom's rooms is a missed opportunity and sends architecturally mixed signals.  Here are a few of the functions of Bride's rooms and why I think groom's rooms are also needed. 

The main function of Bride's rooms are to be a place where the bride can get dressed for the sealing and then afterwards change into her often more elaborate wedding dress for photos on the temple grounds.  The room gives more space than a normal locker so brides can more easily change into larger dresses and so they can do their hair, etc., sometimes with help.  Grooms wouldn't need quite as much space, but tuxedos are a bit difficult to put on in a cramped locker and so grooms could certainly use more room.

Bride's rooms are also elaborate rooms with chandeliers, art, sculpted carpets, etc.  There are several reasons for this.  One is that it provides an appropriate setting to change into the temple clothes that she will be sealed in.  Grooms have to change into similar temple clothes for their sealing and so they should similarly have a special room for changing on this most special day.

Bride's rooms also display art chosen to ennoble the bride and inspire her to live righteously and realize her incredible worth as a daughter of God and as a wife.  Often a picture of Queen Esther from the Bible hangs in the room, reminding women that they have great influence for good in marriage and that there are great examples of women in the scriptures.  I think grooms could use similar art so that as they prepare on the day of their sealing they too can think about how to properly treat their wife and future family and to honor their priesthood.  I think this would help set the tone for the sealing the groom is also about to participate in.

Bride's rooms provide a quieter, separate space to prepare for a sealing.  Surely grooms could use this as well.

I have heard that Bride's rooms are there because a wedding day is "her day".  While it is true that in American culture women seem to obsess a lot more about their wedding day with colors, cake flavors and reception details planned years in advance, it really isn't just her day.  It is the couple's day.  Both could use special rooms to change in as is commonly the case in reception centers.

I have also heard that we have Bride's rooms out of respect to women.  I've never really bought this argument.  Having respect for women doesn't mean we have to have disregard for men.  I am personally fine with groom's rooms being less elaborate than Bride's rooms, but I think they should still exist.  A similar situation exists in our church architecture.  There the Relief Society room used by the women is usually the nicest room in the building (with the possible exception of the chapel) while the priesthood rooms are usually in an overflow or spare classroom somewhere.  This sends the architectural signal that women and the Relief Society are really important but that the priesthood can go anywhere and isn't really that important (which is odd given the doctrinal importance of the priesthood).  This wasn't always the case.  If you look at old churches (built 50 years or more ago) they almost always have an Aaronic Priesthood Room and an Elder's Quorum or Melchizedek Priesthood Room (often wings) in addition to Relief Society rooms.  So in the past in churches our architecture was more consistent with our doctrine. 

This is a bit off topic, but we make the same mistake in our chapels where we tell everyone that the sacrament is the most important part and the focus of sacrament meeting and then place the sacrament table on one side of the room where it isn't the focus and instead have the pulpit and the talks as the focal point.  If you go back 50+ years sacrament tables used to be in front of the pulpits in the center or the sacrament tables were in the center of the stand with the pulpit off to one side.  This made the architecture consistent with the doctrine, not in conflict with it.

Let's get back to my real topic, my confusion about why we don't have groom's rooms in temples.

We hear so many talks telling men to take marriage seriously or lamenting that men are neglecting family duties, and yet on the very day that they are married, sealed for eternity, and form a family we miss the opportunity to architecturally tell them that it is more important than other days and to emphasize the importance of marriage and family.  Instead, the typical lockers will do.  Architecturally we are saying that women need to value marriage and family and should be overjoyed at the marriage, but the architecture is silent when it comes to men.  I know that this isn't what is taught, but the presence of an elaborate bride's room with instructive art and the lack of a groom's room doesn't architecturally show heightened importance for men in marriage.  We have an opportunity to set the tone for the sealing.  We have a chance to instruct the groom  on the importance of marriage, family, and his duties as a husband and father.  We can help him take his marriage seriously.  By not including groom's rooms we are being less effective in these areas.  If we are seriously concerned about men not living up to their marriage and family responsibilities, adding grooms rooms is one way we could help them (even if it is fairly minor).

I propose that we should start including groom's rooms in temples.  These don't need to be as elaborate as bride's rooms, but stained glass and nice carpets would be appropriate.  Room to comfortably change into temple clothes and later formal attire such as tuxedos would be nice.  Finally, good paintings and other art that is particularly suited to grooms and their responsibilities to their wife, future family, etc. should be in the groom's rooms to help set the tone and prepare the groom for the sealing ceremony.  When a groom goes into the groom's room he should feel like his wedding day is extra special.  He should realize that to the very core the day is special because of the importance of the sealing ordinance in God's plan.  He should feel a need to make this day special for his bride and his future family.  Grooms rooms would aid in this goal.

Let me know what you think about this. To be clear, I find it confusing that we don't have groom's rooms and I find it to be a missed opportunity, yet they aren't a necessary part of the temple.  The temple is still God's house without them, I just think it would be better with them.