Sacred and Secret: Temples in the Internet age

Salt Lake temple’s East Sealing Room (1911) sneakily photographed by Gisbert Bossard

[*Please tread respectfully and carefully in the comments*]

Americans watch in shock and disbelief as riots in the Middle East are explained to be the result of a terribly-produced video mocking the prophet of Islam. Having been born and raised in a place where freedom of expression, however repugnant, is protected by law with First Amendment authority, we miss the fact that, in such highly moderated countries, the allowance of such a production is understood as being ratified by people and state, rather than being something to snicker at given its fundamental silliness and ill-execution. Strength, for us, would best be shown by ignoring rather than igniting.

But Mormons are typically highly attuned to ways video and images can be used to trample sacred-held beliefs. When it comes to us, the ultimate taboo isn’t placed upon any prophet, but rather within rituals enacted in Mormon temples.

Participation in Mormon temple ritual is reserved for an inner circle of Mormons who live according to a certain code of morals including payment of a ten percent tithe, affirming faith in God, Jesus, Joseph Smith, and present church authorities, and abstaining from alcohol and tobacco. Participants swear to several obligations, although Mormons refer to such swearing as “covenant.” As one Mormon apostle explained:

“The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King,—the Lord Jesus Christ. With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions” (James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 84, see the first edition with photos here).

This excerpt emphasizes the moral nature of the covenants Mormons make in temples. Such praiseworthy promises could surely be lauded by a wider American public attuned to the necessity of civic virtues for their nation’s well-being. Unmentioned in this excerpt, however, are the covenants of secrecy–that participants promise not to disclose certain elements of the ceremonies. This, above all else, has been the seedbed of public scrutiny and anxiety regarding Mormon ritual practice. Ironically, the book in which Talmage’s explanation appeared was originally published as a way of short-circuiting ongoing exposés of Mormon temple ritual. In particular, one Gisbert Bossard, snuck into the Salt Lake temple to take photographs. His efforts to blackmail Joseph F. Smith backfired as the church scooped him, publishing better images along with explanations by Elder Talmage. Changes in subsequent editions here and there manifest the ongoing ambiguity amongst Mormons regarding the level of appropriateness in disclosing various aspects of Temple worship.

Despite Bossard’s failure, temple rites had been disclosed by former Mormons in the national press almost from the very start. In the accidentally-comic film September Dawn, the revealing of temple secrets is guaranteed to bring to pass violent retribution–a possibility which older versions of the ceremony helped give grounds for, as Sam Brown has discussed elsewhere. Big Love caused a stir a few years back by depicting elements of temple worship on HBO, now available on DVD, but no riots ensued and the Church Newsroom released a statement encouraging civility and calmness on the part of Church members.

Perhaps such calm reactions help explain why Robert Sivulka immediately distanced his “Courageous Christians United” group from an advisor to the ridiculous Muhammad film, while at the same time providing links to videos of LDS temple rituals recorded using hidden cameras, and promising more to come. Sivulka’s respect for things which other faiths hold sacred seems limited to the extent which disrespect generates physical violence. Sivulka would take advantage of Mitt Romney’s place in the public eye to further his own religious agenda of discrediting Mormonism. He appears unaware that the temple, for Mormons, can mean many different things, and that discomfort with the temple can exist for some Mormons even apart from its secrecy.

Meanwhile, to see LDS ceremonies plastered on youtube feels like an invasion of privacy, uncomfortable, sad, upsetting, unjust, inconsiderate to many members of the Church. Mormons often say the Temple is sacred, not secret, but when it boils down to it, the Temple is both of those things for Mormons. Is there a reasonable expectation of privacy in the age of Wikileaks? Even if there is, expectations won’t prevent exposés. The question turns to what Mormons might do in the face of public disclosures. I have three suggestions, in addition to Sam Brown’s excellent explanation of the importance of taboos in the present world:

First, the Temple can remain a sacred and even secret place for members of the Church despite internet videos and descriptions. This is precisely because the ceremony is personally enacted and experienced in companies of people in the flesh. You can read about going to a concert, but feeling the pulse of the music and the heat of the crowd or listening to a cruddy bootleg recording doesn’t have the same effect. Mormon historian Richard Bushman suggested as much in a 2007 Pew forum on Mormonism:

“Once you get past that [temple] door, you immediately go to a changing room where you shed your outer clothes and put on special white clothing. In the temple you speak in whispers. You don’t speak aloud. And then outside the temple you don’t talk about it at all. Some people think of this as secretive in the sense of hiding things. But for Mormons, it’s all part of the process of creating a sacred space. When you walk in there, life is different. You just feel things are on a different plane.

When you come out, it’s not usually an overwhelming vision you have experienced, but you feel elevated. It becomes very important for Mormons to go into that space, just like practicing the Sabbath, keeping it holy, has an exalting effect on human life. So that’s the way I look at the temple ceremonies.

Mormons know you can go online, get every last word of the temple ceremony. It’s all there. So it’s not like it’s hidden from the world. Anybody can get it. But among us, we don’t talk about it that way. It means something to us. It means a lot.”

As Bushman seems to imply, Mormons can continue to recenter the sacrality of Temple ritual somewhat away from elements of secrecy toward the personal, communal, embodied importance of participation in the covenants. After all, many of the elements participants promise not to disclose are received in the company of others. This doesn’t mean Mormons will start “telling it all,” but that individual Mormons can keep promises aside from whether people can Google things, and that the participatory elements of the ceremonies can be better emphasized in preparing for and discussing Temple participation.

Second, with the temple being available in various online places, youth will be more able to give in to curiosity. The first time I heard anything specific about the temple was in an AOL chatroom where Mormons and anti-Mormons were arguing. It left me with a lot of questions. Better–and perhaps more specific–temple preparation classes can help circumvent such surprises.

Third, better temple prep for youth will help lead to better prepared missionaries. They could be prepared to meaningfully discuss specific aspects of the Temple and its role in our current framing of the plan of salvation, even while remaining true to specific covenants of non-disclosure. As Nibley and even some Mormon leaders have shown, there is a bit more latitude in what might be discussed than many folks think. Investigators who are met with hemming and hawing, discomfort, hasty dismissals, etc. are likely to feel put off instead of more interested in learning about Mormonism. They would better be met by specific descriptions, testimonies, pamphlets and photographs than silence or uncomfortable redirection.

Yes, Temple exposés are uncomfortable. I believe they are fundamentally disrespectful, that people who disseminate them manifest either an ignorance or a disregard for the sacred elements of Mormon ritual and the feelings of those who participate in them. They really do make me feel bad. But at the same time they can also serve as an opportunity for members of the Church to reevaluate the ways we present the Temple–including its sacred secrets–to ourselves as well as outsiders. Keep this in mind, should our temples ever receive more public scrutiny.

Comments

  1. Long time reader, first time commenter here…

    When I was first endowed (four years ago next month) I had an excellent series of temple prep classes taught by the former president and matron of the temple that I was to be endowed in. That was a remarkable opportunity. In addition, I read every legitimate source that I could get my hands on–from Packer’s book to the Pearl of Great Price to every temple-related entry in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism. I found when I got there that I was very prepared and not at all surprised by the vast majority of the content. As mentioned in the article, there is indeed a bit of latitude in what might be respectfully discussed.

    The flip side of this, and one reason that I’m glad that our temple prep classes don’t go into more detail, is that not everyone has a former temple president and matron to teach their temple prep classes. I, frankly, don’t WANT the average Joe or Jane Mormon’s opinion on the sacred details of the temple. I think that besides creating a sacred space, as beautifully articulated by Richard Bushman, one of the purposes of our not discussing temple rites and doctrine outside the temple is so that each individual can come to their own conclusions about the content there, possibly aided by the very close circle of trusted people with whom you actually discuss details with INSIDE the temple. I love that not my stake president, not even an apostle can tell me how to interpret the temple ceremony. That is between me and God. (Though, don’t get me wrong, I would LOVE the opportunity to learn from an apostle in the temple…it just has to be in the right setting and for the right reasons.)

    Sorry for the long comment! Love this site.

  2. Anna, thanks for mentioning that flip-side. I think the problem of a church of lay teachers and volunteers is one reason for Correlation’s tight hand on published materials. I think you make an interesting suggestion re: the Temple taboo allowing for greater personal interpretive latitude.

  3. Carole Wang Schutter says:

    Bah. Your glib dismissal of the glory of September Dawn is ham-fisted…

  4. I think that the evolution of the Church’s distribution of images of temple interiors in interesting. For example, a number of years ago when they started distributing images again, especially before dedications, they removed the altars from the scene. They then started distributing images with the altars in view. I wish the church would do something a la Talmage in regard to temple clothing and garments.

  5. Anon for this says:

    This is an interesting post, and the Bushman quote in particular gives me a lot to think about. I’ve been moving towards leaving the church and recently watched parts of the hidden camera temple videos that have been recently uploaded to youtube. Watching them gave me an overwhelming feeling of creepiness and disgust. I won’t go into specific details here, but I have a hard time believing that going through the temple would be so much different in person as to be considered uplifting.

    I’m curious if there is anyone here who has been through the temple and considered it a good experience has also watched the hidden camera footage, and what their reactions to it were. I appreciate the concert metaphor, and do think that there is added value to seeing something in person. But I can’t imagine watching a concert and HATING it, and then going to it in person and really loving it.

    I often wonder how I would have reacted to it had I gone through the temple back when I was more active. I was resistant mostly because it was so unknown, but also felt like a “point of no return” threshold. I didn’t think I’d be able to begin the ceremony and then safely leave if I felt uncomfortable with it. It was this fear that sent me searching for info on the internet, since I didn’t feel like I could get enough information from my parents or church leaders. (Cryptic info I did get from them after asking only made me more concerned.)

    I don’t have any suggestions for how to better prevent this, but I wanted to share my experience. I look forward to reading future comments. Thanks again for the post.

  6. Michael E. Taylor says:

    Thanks, Blair for this post. Like a lot of latter-day saints raised in the church, the sacredness of the temple was impressed on me at a young age. I remember learning from a sibling when a teenager that “apostates” had posted the endowment transcripts on-line and feeling burning righteous indignation, but after the indignation, just feeling straight up bad and sad about it. I’d imbibed the typical Mormon persecution complex as a kid growing up outside of the Mormon Culture Region, occasionally with good reason, and to my young mind, this really did seem unthinkable. I vowed there and then that I’d keep the temple sacred to me, and wait until I received my own endowment for disclosure of the sacred. Not too long thereafter, in conversation an evangelical friend asked me about the temple and told her that not having been there, there was I lot I didn’t know and that you can only learn in the temple itself. My choir teacher who was nearby piped up and said, “oh, you can get it all on the internet.” Again, I was appalled but I tried to act as if he hadn’t said a thing. Even in subsequent years the shock didn’t seem to fade whenever the topic came up in conservation or media. It was actually reading the quote from Bushman that you quoted that I felt blessed with a new perspective and I simmered down a bit and decided that the temple could be sacred to me despite the mockery of others. Thanks for your post, it gives some great added perspective on how to treat and approach the secrecy of the temple.

  7. Rob Sivulka says:

    If I had a hidden video of Muhammad marrying Ayesha, you bet I would promote it… despite the risk. Heck, I run [an anti-Islam site] despite the risk. Having said that, I wouldn’t recreate an LDS temple ceremony as a parody simply for the intent of laughs and to incite people to violence.

  8. @ANON FOR THIS – I have two thoughts. First, I can absolutely relate to the feeling of creepiness and disgust you mention. It’s how I feel whenever I encounter a disrespectful portrayal of temple worship. (Like when a Google search for “lds temples” turns up photos of sacred elements of the ceremony, or my ex-Mormon BIL mockingly quotes the temple ceremony.) Remember that, given the nature of the covenants made there and described in this post, anyone who is posting videos, photos, mocking the language, etc is breaking very serious covenants they’ve made. In my opinion, this is why I feel so creepy and disgusted – because of their crass and blasphemous portrayal of sacred things, not the nature of the sacred things themselves. Does that make sense? By the way, I go to the temple regularly and, aside from having to struggle to stay awake sometimes, it is a lovely experience. But because I don’t want to feel creeped out and disgusted, I don’t at this point intend to watch those youtube videos.

    My second thought, and I really REALLY hope this doesn’t sound condescending, is that if you are considering leaving the church, then the temple may not be the best place to start as you make your decision. Temple worship only feels good and right when built on a foundation of Gospel belief and practice. If one believes in the basic principles of the Gospel, makes an effort to regularly experience the benefits (and struggles) of being part of the body of Christ, and is dedicated to putting godly pursuits above worldly pursuits, then temple worship is the logical next step. But if you are struggling with these prerequisites (and for good reason…they are hard! and not for everyone!), then I say give yourself a break and don’t worry about the temple for now. If you decide that it’s worth it to you to stay active then you can consider how temple worship may or may not fit into your life. And hopefully you can find some trusted advisers who will be more candid and supportive than it sounds like your leaders have.

  9. Rob: I don’t see how anyone could interpret Blair as saying here that recording and releasing a temple ceremony on the Internet was done with the explicit purpose of inciting violence. He’s saying that the possibility or actuality of such violent reactions is apparently the only thing that gives you pause–respect for the sacred as such is completely absent. Our experiences with the Holy are not only informed by first person, subjective encounters with God and the sacred alone, Rob. How we orient ourselves toward the sacred in the form of others foreign to ourselves experiencing it reveals much of what we actually think of the sacred as such, precisely because we fail to sufficiently understand that it is the universal value of every human being that participates in the sacred and makes humans so valued in the first place, regardless of belief or culture (unless you think that God really does love some of us less than others). Consequently, when we devalue the experience of sacredness that the other person has, we are devaluing the very concept of sacredness itself and demonstrate how little we understand it or have truly experienced something sacred and holy ourselves.

  10. Chris Kimball says:

    Talmage’s description of the covenants (“The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations . . .”) is the only one I’d be willing to quote publicly, even though I think it debatable whether the actual wording of the several covenants is subject to the covenant of secrecy. However, Talmage’s description is not very accurate. There are significant omissions. there are arguably additions, and there are certainly glosses on phrases that do not necessarily mean what Talmage says they mean. Furthermore, in my (admittedly long ago) experience, the actual covenants were not well described in the temple preparation class (that is, no better than quoting Talmage), and yet the wording of some of the covenants were in the top five of reasons for discomfort, for those who found the endowment troubling.

  11. Rob Sivulka says:

    I’m sure Muhammad’s marriage to Ayesha was sacred to him as well. Nonetheless, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you’” (Eph. 5:11-14). There are a lot of objectionable and dark things that need exposing in the LDS temple ceremony.

  12. Uh-huh. My comment has still not been responded to.

  13. Carole says: “Bah. Your glib dismissal of the glory of September Dawn is ham-fisted…”

    Yes, bah. “Ham-fisted” and “September Dawn” are two phrases that will forever belong together, Carole. I haven’t read your novelization, but good grief, that film was terrible cinematically, historically, and in many other ways.

    Rob: Tread lightly, your first amendment rights don’t really apply here at BCC. It’s already evident you’ve crafted a compelling justification to make yourself feel justified in holding other people’s religious practices in contempt, and that you do it in the name of your own faith. This post isn’t intended to argue about why you’re wrong to do so, or to convince you to do otherwise. In fact, objections are likely to only increase your fervor. Instead, I want to acknowledge here that there are insensitive folks out there who are eager to “expose” the temple, and to talk with fellow Mormons about what we might do in response, or how we might maintain the sacred nature of our sacraments in spite of public ridicule like the kind you facilitate.

    And Jacob’s response was awesome. Wish I’d said that. (Robert didn’t actually respond to it, though.)

    Anon: “I’ve been moving towards leaving the church and recently watched parts of the hidden camera temple videos that have been recently uploaded to youtube.”

    As Anna suggested, this probably isn’t the best way to convince yourself to stay. As Michael noted, he thought it was helpful to decide beforehand not to view Temple material but rather to experience it for himself. Of course, there seems to be risk involved in such a decision. Silvulka seeks to capitalize on that sense of risk by using words like “dark things” to describe temple worship. I think Anna gets it right by suggesting that there is a certain foundation upon which temple worship can be usefully placed, but watching it on youtube isn’t really in the toolkit. And as she mentioned, the temple itself is important within Mormonism, but there are Mormons, faithful ones, who don’t feel drawn to temple worship as part of their experience as Mormons. And stories like yours can be short-circuited if we take into account, and make adjustments for, the fact that members can find this stuff online, and without sufficient preparation or context will find it strange, or boring, or whatever else.

    Chris: Yeah, Talmage is treading lightly, but I don’t think he’s trying to be inaccurate. In fact, I think it’s a pretty nice little synopsis. Did you check the link to the whole book? The temple prep manuals actually go into a bit more detail, though no direct quotes are given:

    http://www.lds.org/manual/preparing-to-enter-the-holy-temple/preparing-to-enter-the-holy-temple?lang=eng

    http://www.lds.org/manual/endowed-from-on-high-temple-preparation-seminar-teachers-manual/lesson-4-receiving-temple-ordinances-and-covenants?lang=eng

    Temple prep classes seem to be hit or miss, as I mentioned, given the nature of the training for those teaching them and the overall taboos surrounding discussions of the Temple in everyday life. I’m arguing here that better prep can help compensate for the tactics of anti-Mormons like Sivulka.

  14. Rob Sivulka says:

    Perhaps you didn’t read my first post carefully. Hodges is wrong to assume that physical violence is the only thing that would give me pause. In addition to that, I also said “simply for the intent of laughs.”

  15. Great post, Blair.

    I do think there is potential value to be had in experiencing high ritual first-hand without having watched a video tour of it before or having the whole process laid out explicitly. However, I believe our temple prep course is embarrassingly inadequate, and that our overly sensitive/defensive approach to “what really happens in the temple” hamper hamper personal development and benefits that might be derived from lifetime attendance.

    We need to explain more explicitly (but respecting the caveat I explained earlier) what new initiates will experience and establish a better understanding of high ritual. I had one bishop, perhaps anticipating the typical shock first timers feel, give to me a very crude, step-by-step breakdown of the “weirdest” parts in a rather irreverent manner. I had another bishop tell my fiance that everything in the temple was literal. Huh?

    Also, it seems illogical and ineffective to offer someone a token opportunity to leave the ceremony before they actually know what they will even be doing or saying, all enveloped in a massive amount of social pressure.

    A lot of people will reluctantly concede that their first time through the temple was a bewildering, unsettling experience. I think this is due in part to a failure of the institution to adequately prepare us, and it doesn’t need to be this way.

  16. Michael E. Taylor says:

    Anon for this – My own endowment was by far one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. In the top three at least. I was blessed, however, with a brother who in appropriate ways really tried to prepare me for the temple.

    And yes, the temple was unfamiliar, and therefore “strange”, but then again most religious/symbolic acts will seem strange to those not familiar with them. Imagine a man from rural China not knowing anything about Christianity, who then walks into a Sacrament meeting and someone explains that the bread and water being passed around is symbolically the flesh and blood of a historical man named Jesus who after being killed came back to life. Other examples could abound. Nonetheless, to those who have been initiated into the temple ordinances, they can become (even if they weren’t at first) deeply powerful, rejuvenating and meaningful.

    With regards to the “concert tape” analogy, I have to add one thing. There’s the issue of context. There is a big difference between observing and participating. In our world anything is fair game to be consumed in some media outlet, even things that you wouldn’t want to watch or re-watch or to have any watch. They are only meant to be participated in. Sorry for the racy example, but say the conception of one your children; a beautiful moment that had a proper context, proper participants and is not to be shared with anyone else. I would say the death of a loved one is another. If we are lucky enough to be present for those final moments, who would want anyone video-taping that and putting it on the internet? And in the religious sense, there are examples where the event was too sacred to be witnessed / participated in by just anyone. No one, except from a distance, witnessed what the Savior suffered in Gethsemane, and none of the witnesses of Christ’s bodily resurrection were there for the initial moment when he triumphantly left the tomb (again only the angels saw that). And if the apostles had been there and had been living in the 20th-century would they have taken pictures with their iPhones and posted them on YouTube; I think not. When certain sweet sacred and life events are taken out of context and displayed in appropriately, the natural reaction is disgust. The temple is no different

  17. Michael E. Taylor says:

    21st-century, that is….

  18. Nice post, Blair. I think your description of the sacredness of the temple is very helpful for thinking about other sacred experiences, especially sacred sexual relations. That is, a husband or wife can find sexual experiences outside of their sacred union, but only in honoring the covenant to confine such experiences to the union is sacredness constructed and preserved….

  19. Rob: You’re focusing on one line in the post where I said your tolerance seems limited to the potential reactions of physical violence. This line was based on how you removed someone from your CCU board for his involvement with the offensive Islam movie. You posted a little press release on CCU’s website saying: “In fact, we find this film reprehensible and irresponsible, and serving primarily to provoke a violent response.”

    At the same time you were advertising for someone who unethically trespassed in an LDS temple and took film of people in a private act of worship. As noted, LDS folks aren’t up in arms about your disrespect, and you seem to think the tactic of posting the film is OK because it isn’t “reprehensible and irresponsible” given that it doesn’t serve “primarily to provoke a violent response.” (That point is also debatable, as the filmmaker could simply say he is only trying to tell the “truth” about Islam, and the violent response is an unintended consequence.) The main difference between your response to the Islam film and your promotion of the LDS clip seems to be, as you wrote, that the first film served “primarily to provoke a violent response.” Interestingly, you seem to think the film itself actually tells the truth about Islam, but that it simply wasn’t a “good means to convey the truth,” whereas posting LDS film is because it doesn’t lead to dangerous responses and is thus not “irresponsible.”

  20. I have only ever done baptisms for the dead so have never really “gone through” the Temple. I would not watch a video, especially a “secret” video because for some reason I cannot put my finger on it does not sit well with me. However, I would like to know ahead of time what I am expected to covenant to. I do not take covenants lightly and thus cannot get behind such a split-second agreement. Not when it involves eternity. So if there was a way to know in proper respectful context it would be very helpful to me. The fact that there is not is the biggest roadblock to me ever going. For some people, if The Church will not give them the answers they need they will seek it elsewhere. (shrug)

  21. This also serves to randomly and shakily ground your reasoning for posting the the LDS film on the happenstance that you live in a nation where the First Amendment is woven into its contemporary culture. Of course there won’t be violence when its the *Mormons*; they believe in free speech no matter how much they disagree with it and will not therefore resort to violence. Your decision to post the LDS film and remove support for the Islam film is ultimately ethically relative, based on the reactions of Islam and LDS according merely to the culture they live in and not on some absolute biblical principle. C’mon, Rob. Is the film grounded in the absolute truth claims of Christianity or not? And the Islam film? Why should violence, potential or otherwise, be a deciding factor?

  22. Rob Sivulka says:

    OK, so now you’re qualifying the “main difference” (Hodges) with the “only thing” (Jacob). I’ve already stated on radio that if we were to do a film on Islam, we’d do it like [sorry, not gonna let this become an advertisement for your projects], whether there was a violent response or not. And if you can’t tell the difference between the 2 films, then… ahhhh. And if you don’t see the difference between a parody film with one purpose in mind, and a hidden camera exposing what’s really going on (e.g., Chris Hansen’s pieces on sexual predators, or LDS temple ceremonies), then… ahhhh! I let others be the judge here.

  23. Rob: The Islam film was never described by the filmmaker or your associate Steve Klein as being a parody. It was not a spoof, although the terrible production values make it immediately ridiculous.

    Chris Hansen didn’t break into the homes of sexual predators, or even alleged predators. And there’s more that could be said about the ways that program sensationalized for ratings sake, and even resulted in a suicide. In fact, many discussions about ethics in journalism have taken place as a result of that show, and I think it’s significant that you seem unaware of them.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=catch+a+predator+ethics&sugexp=chrome,mod=0&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    You’ve also missed Jacob’s points about sacrality in general.

  24. Rob Sivulka says:

    Let’s be clear. Of course the video is a parody. You don’t need the makers to label it as such before everyone else knows what it is.

    Also, I didn’t take the video of the temple ceremony. But since it’s out there for public consumption, I’m justified at least linking to it. Just like with Bradley Manning. He shouldn’t have stolen state secrets. But since he did, and they became public, new organizations were certainly justified in reporting and commenting on the matter.

  25. EOR- See here for some lesser-known GA statements about temple covenants. (And apologies for the eternal-work-in-progress state of that website.)

    http://www.mormonmonastery.org/why-covenant-to-the-unknown/

  26. Rob: “Let’s be clear. Of course the video is a parody. You don’t need the makers to label it as such before everyone else knows what it is.”

    Poor production values? Poor acting? Bad editing? Deception in the creation of the film? Yes, all of these things. But at no point has it been suggested that it was ever intended as a joke or parody.

    “But since it’s out there for public consumption, I’m justified at least linking to it.”

    The fact that you try to rhetorically distance yourself from its dissemination indicates to me that in some sense even you realize it wasn’t ethical to promote. Also, the fact that the creator of the videos, Mike Norton, has been regularly posting updates on your Facebook wall with your encouragement indicates yours is more than simply the act of posting a link you happened to stumble upon. And no, you’re no Bradley Manning, nor do you have to worry about similar repercussions in your own disrespectful decisions. You’re all over the map, here. First it’s Chris Hanson’s shady TV specials, now it’s an Army vet leaking classified documents in the context of actual human warfare and the potential life-threatening outcomes of such dissemination. You’re neither of those guys, though.

  27. One way for Latter-day Saints to maintain the sacredness of the temple is simply not to watch the videos or read the mockery, whether or not you have been or are currently able to go to the temple. If you can keep a fast, you have the self control to forgo supporting those who have no honor.

  28. The monk: excellent. Ardis, agreed.

  29. I loved the temple from my very first visit. I was prepared beautifully, despite how young I was. I have however had very close friends who had a great deal of difficulty with the temple ceremony.

    I have absolutely no discomfort or problem with the broadcast of the temple ceremonies for several reasons.

    First, those who would mock what other hold sacred are betraying their own small-mindedness and ignorance without cheapening my experience at all.

    Second, whatever CAN be shown of the ceremony is little more than a tool for the actual temple experience. Every outward detail could be broadcast without touching upon anything real. It isn’t like a concert, where the externals ARE the point, the temple is entirely internal. The outward events are merely to create a space and guide the heart and mind to a spiritual place where the Spirit can completely manifest. There is no way to show that any more than you could communicate any meaning through an entirely foreign language.

    Finally, in order to have access to those ceremonies, individuals had to deliberately deceive. They had to make certain promises, or at least appear as though they are making them. For that, they will be held accountable to God.

    And that will certainly be uncomfortable for them.

  30. The Monk, thank you I will check them out.

    Silver Rain, deception to get into the Temple scares the bajeebies out of me. Maybe that is why I would not watch. Another thing that keeps me out of the Temple is “do you feel worthy?” To enter the Lord’s house?!?! Uhhhh no!

  31. “And no, you’re no Bradley Manning”

    Where above did Rob claim to be a Bradley Manning? It seems in a charitable reading of his comments he was claiming to be like someone who was discussing and linking to the material after Bradley Manning obtained and distributed it.

    BHodges, why be so acrimonious? Why not be a good interfaith dialog partner and simply ask Rob more about his reasoning, so as to understand his position better? You seem to have condemned him before understanding him. Very off-putting.

  32. Blair is the most diplomatic, the most charitable “interfaith dialog partner” I’ve ever known — he can even take me to task for whining about, say, FAIR, without managing to offend me. That anybody could find him “acrimonious” here simply boggles the mind. Rob Sivulka has been confrontational, belligerent, and anything but harmonious, and Blair has responded with patience and respect, far more than was called for..

  33. EOR, I know this is a bit off topic, but I have changed how I think about temple worthiness lately. There are certain standards that are a prerequisite for temple attendance. (I think this is partly for the protection of those entering the temple. It wouldn’t be fair, for instance, to ask someone under the influence of a drug addiction to make and live up to serious covenants…until they have resolved their addiction.) But think how much of good Christian living is left out of the temple recommend interview–greed, anger problems, intolerance, watching Project Runway instead of reading your scriptures… I think that, provided an individual is of sound mind and exercising basic moral behavior in their life, going to the temple can help them become a better person. I like what SilverRain said about the internal experience of the temple, and I think this internal experience can help me reach a higher plane of worthiness every time I go.

  34. Anon for this says:

    Ardis-
    I know some people (myself included) that watch the videos and read the mockery simply because that seems to be all that’s out there. My parents and leaders were very hesitant to answer my sincere questions, to the point where I felt like I was doing something wrong by even asking them. Strangers on the internet were more than happy to answer my questions. I don’t think desire for knowledge is something that should be suppressed, or self-controlled. Especially by a church founded on that desire. I tried asking “honorable” people. They told me I was wrong to even ask. I can’t keep a fast forever.

    I don’t think my parents and specific leaders are fully to blame, either. I think they are embodying attitudes encouraged by the church. Sure there are some great leaders out there who know exactly what to say to satisfy the curious teenager that needs answers, but they are the exception. And I don’t think they are that way due to church leadership.

    I appreciate the idea that the temple isn’t meant for people like me, at this point in my life; and I take no offense to that sentiment. I guess I’m just not satisfied with that answer. Like others have said, it would be nice (and for me, necessary) to know what covenants I’m about to make before I make them in a secret room filled with my ward and family. Honestly, I think the secrecy around them is what makes them so ominous for me. Would it really take away from the sacredness if the church put out a video or something just walking through the endowment? They can still say “this is where we do THIS” and “now we do THIS” and not explicitly show everything. I’ve seen full temple clothing before at LDS funerals, so it seems that that part is not completely taboo. Is withholding knowledge from someone like me, who grew up in the church and respects the religion, but has enough curiosity and anxiety over it to find answers from less honorable sources really necessary for it to be sacred?

    At a time when the church is losing more young adults than ever, I think more transparency around things like this would go a long way to keeping some of them in.

  35. Anon for this says:

    SilverRain-
    I wrote my comment before yours posted. I completely agree. And, honestly, it soothes my soul a bit to hear that sentiment from people who have been through the temple themselves.

  36. Anon you should be able to ask your bishop what covenants you will make in the temple, and he should be able to tell them to you. My Dad told me the covenants I would make before I entered into the temple in a private meeting with him the night before.

  37. @20 EOR,
    Have a temple recommend interview with your bishop. Pay close attention to the questions he asks you. If you do that then you shouldn’t have and huge surprises regarding the content of your temple covenants.
    As I’ve always liked to say, in the temple, we make covenants to continue to live our lives the same way we were living them in order to qualify to go there in the first place.

  38. angelandsimba says:

    #37 …. ANY huge surprises……

  39. Speaking of general authorities giving us information about the temple, there is a new video recently released by the Newsroom of William A. Walker giving a tour of the temple. Now granted I think this is directed at outsiders, but I would guess that an approach toward insiders would not be that much different: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1386757260001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAut5OBKE~,0d8kPD-tlia39EIEZMkbPampNFqJzX6-&bctid=1824690739001

  40. “I have never heard a member of our church refer to our temple as ‘secret'” – Elder William A. Walker

  41. Although I have experienced a major crisis of faith during the past few years, I still attend the temple and find myself enveloped in tangible peace there. Sacred sites may hold the same peace for those of other faiths as well, and I would never ridicule or belittle the sites or the experience of the worshippers. I feel sad when anyone ridicules the sacred beliefs of others, and even though my testimony is based more on the Savior than Joseph Smith right now, I find that time spent in the temple praying and meditating is a sacred and holy experience.

  42. “It is really about sacred.” – Elder William A. Walker

  43. Wow Blair this is great. Great new perspective on something I hold very dear and sacred. I get very angry and upset when I hear that people expose our temple ceremonies and garments, mostly because of the disrespect. I do like the thought that we can still hold the ceremony sacred to ourselves despite what the world does.

  44. Hopefully Mormon temples can remain both sacred and secret in the Internet age in the sense that those who attend can receive much more than is communicated.

  45. I usually lurk here rather than contribute but I feel some need to make a few comments.

    The temple ceremonies are not meant to be the substance of what we learn within the temple walls. They are meant to be instructional and orient us to greater things than we have thus far attained. They are a powerful tool in doing so and the environment of the temple, as well as the society there, are meant to facilitate our education. The substance of the temple ceremonies is received personally by each patron and is communicated by the Holy Ghost. No amount of video taping will capture that substance.

  46. Stephen Smoot says:

    I think Hugh Nibley’s quote is appropriate here.

    “Why are these temple ordinances guarded with such secrecy when anyone who really wants to can find out what goes on? Even though everyone may discover what goes on in the temple, and many have already revealed it, the important thing is that I do not reveal these things; they must remain sacred to me. I must preserve a zone of sanctity which cannot be violated…For my covenants are all between me and my Heavenly Father.” (“Return to the Temple”, Temple and Cosmos, 64)

    I am saddened when the temple ceremonies are profaned. However, I do not get upset, and it does not affect my faith. So long as I as an individual keep these things sacred, I am not violating my covenants. There is still that covenant between me and God, and nobody can break that except for myself.

    I also feel sorry for individuals who reveal temple content, because it means they just don’t fully appreciate the sacred meaning of what they experienced. People who expose the temple ceremonies are only hurting themselves. If they really understood the importance of the covenants they make in the temple, they would not do what they do. So I think many of these individuals do these things out of ignorance. They simply don’t know any better, otherwise they wouldn’t do it.

    Of course it is sad to see the temple ceremonies mocked and profaned, but so long as we as individuals maintain our covenants and respect the temple, these individuals can only hurt themselves.

    I also think the best course of action is to ignore these types of things. Those who post these kind of videos on YouTube want attention to feel validated. They want to outrage Mormons in order to draw more attention to what they do. So I feel it is best to just ignore them.

    What’s more, I don’t buy for one second the excuses given by anti-Mormons like Rob Sivulka. If someone finds something insulting or offensive to their faith, the reasonable and nice thing to do is to not tread on their sacred ground. For example, I am currently studying Hebrew at BYU. When I read the Bible in my mind or out loud I usually pronounce the name Yahweh, because, as a non-Jew, I do not find it offensive or sacrilegious to do so. However, if I were with a group of Jews, like I was last week when I visited Col Ami in Salt Lake City, I would never dream of pronouncing the name Yahweh, because I know that they would find it objectionable. So instead I would pronounce the divine name Adonai, in respect to my Jewish friends whom I don’t want to offend.

    Same principle goes for how we should interact with any and all in inter-religious dialogue. Can we passionately believe in our faiths, even if our beliefs may greatly contradict others? Yes. But should we still be respectful and decent towards others? Absolutely.

  47. This has been an interesting post and set of reactions. I took out my endowment over 40 years ago and only attended a handful of times since. I can’t say that I understood it very well, nor that I had a great appreciation for the experience. I do, however, cherish the emotions I felt when I encountered my grandmother in the Celestial Room and would hope for some similar experience in the hereafter.

    As someone who transitioned from an observant Mormon to an observer of Mormonism, I still take exception to the snide comments about “magic underwear” and have, on a couple of occasions remonstrated with wisecrackers pointing out that I have siblings and nephews who wear garments under the uniform of our nation and consequently deserve a modicum of respect. Likewise, the wife of my physician (a devout Muslim) deserves to be able to dress with a chador and my attorney’s sons can wear their yarmulkes without being targets of ridicule. Rob Sikulva’s tone and approach are self-evident and to be disregarded.

  48. Chris Kimball says:

    Regarding the wording of the covenants (my 10, and 13, 20, 25, 36 and probably some I’ve missed) —
    I hope the Temple Preparation process does include instruction on the covenants as they are actually presented in the temple, even if in a private meeting (see comment 36). I’ve re-read all the commentary and explanations that people have pointed to, from Talmage to other General Authorities and the several instruction manuals, and (as I suspected and remembered) every one elides the wording that seems to cause trouble for those who are troubled (in my limited experience). This is not to say the wording is wrong or should be changed or is necessarily troubling; many people have no problem at all with the covenants as presented, and a discussion or debate about the wording is one I am neither qualified nor interested to start or participate in. This is just to say that the words that cause trouble, when trouble is to be had, seem to be avoided in every public description. At least for those who are about to attend the temple for the first time, I hope we do better.

  49. I heartily agree with the first comment (Anna). When someone asks me why Mormons don’t discuss the specifics of temple ceremonies, even amongst themselves, I say, essentially, to leave each of us free to interpret the temple in our own way; to protect it from correlation; to keep it from being easily codified by some manual or committee.

  50. If there is one (useless) thing I would like to add, it’s to request that we reconsider how we talk about the temple.

    We don’t “take out” our endowment. We take out the dog, or we order take out food.
    We don’t “go through” the temple. We go through the drive thru and we go through an amusement park.

    We receive an endowment from on high, just as we receive the Holy Ghost.

    I know it’s just silly language and all, but just going through and taking out our endowments really does sound pretty profane. Since sacred is the topic of this post, I figured I’d add the pet peeve here. Taking out and going through seems to imply God is not there (even though I know that’s certainly not the intent). But to receive it… well, you can only receive an endowment of power from the source.

  51. Rob: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

  52. Anon for here: if you’re concerned about the covenants you take on in the temple, they’re part of the baptismal interview (and annotated in Church manuals), save for this, which is published by the church in the temple prep manual: “We covenant to give of our resources in time and money and talent—all we are and all we possess—to the interest of the kingdom of God upon the earth.”

    There is a difference in the covenants based on gender, but you might get an inkling of that if you know the story that’s being presented in the endowment (which itself is obvious through the names of progressive instruction rooms in some temples, which are also published by the church).

    That was my concern about going through the temple: agreeing to make covenants I didn’t know about. Only after did I find out that the Church has published enough officially that one can learn what the covenants are beforehand – they’re just not made explicit, or listed clearly in any one place.

    If my comments overstep the line for the discussion, feel free to edit or delete them!

  53. In my opinion, which is not directed at any comment in particular, one possible misconception about covenants is the idea that the baptismal covenant and the temple covenants are different in the percent of effort required, as if the baptismal covenant was to serve God only part of the time or to keep only some of His commandments. This is not true at all. See 2 Ne. 31:7, Mosiah 18:7, and Moroni 6:3, for example, which do not qualify or limit either service to God or obedience to God. Any covenant that humans make with God requires a total commitment and then repentance after falling short. Because of this, a member who is worried about whether or not they will be able to accept the temple covenants has not yet understood what an LDS baptism means. The point of total commitment to God should (according to the scriptures) be reached at baptism. The temple covenants do not require more, they just require more specifically.

  54. Smoot: thanks for that Nibley quote. It fits really well with Bushman’s sentiment as well, in that the Temple can remain sacred/secret for members aside from public dissemination.

    JTB: I had a seminary teacher who spent a lot of time in the Old Testament talking about temple stuff. He was careful, he was probably even a bit fast and loose with his interpretation compared to how I tend to read texts today, but he did a lot to help me prepare. And my mom gave me a fairly specific run-down the day before, as well. So I felt completely comfy.

    Anon for this: Hang in there. Feel free to email me, too.

    Thanks for the link, EmJen, and to everyone else for participating carefully and respectfully. You never know how posts like this are going to be received.

    Matt: sorry I let you down.

  55. John Mansfield says:

    In my ward in Baltimore about 18 years ago, for several weeks the assigned sacrament talks were on particular temple covenants; each Sunday one covenant was preached. Not much different than other sacrament talks, but explicitly connected to the temple.

  56. Pres. Obama’s statement this morning to the UN assembly seems relevant:

    “I know that not all countries in this body share this understanding of the protection of free speech. Yet in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete. The question, then, is how we respond.”

    https://www.adr.com/Markets/GlobalNewsStory?docID=1-DN20120925009711-4NKL73EI4075QUD0IOVAFS2S4E

  57. Doug Hudson says:

    Reading this post and the comments sparked a thought: has there been a examination of Mormonism as a mystery religion, ala the many mystery religions that flourished in the late Roman Republic and the Roman Empire? Early Christianity itself had many characteristics of a mystery religion (special signs and markings, communal meetings in hidden locations), though those were more the result of oppression than of any inherent desire for secrecy (though of course there were branches of Christianity that prized secrecy, such as the Gnostics.)

  58. I’ve enjoyed this post as a member going thru a deep faith crisis. I’ve been a faithful temple attendee for over thirty years, and have found a measure of peace at times within the temple walls. However, in the last two years, I have felt extreme discomfort as I’ve noticed how the role of women is played out. Eve is mostly silent and in the background. There is no other female role model in the temple. This grates on my soul as I need to see our Heavenly Mother in the temple and examples of strong women there. I’ve lived long enough to know the changes that have been made to the ceremonies and I wonder/hope we’ll see further changes that uplift women. I often feel that women could officiate just as well as men in the Baptistry for instance. I’ve tried to attend more often but end up crying, especially when I have to cover my face. As a woman, am I that abhorent to the God that created me? I also feel uncomfortablw with the covenants I made at the age of twenty, not knowing them beforehand and feeling the “peer” pressure to go through with my endowment. I now don’t believe it was fair to exact such a promise from me to give all that I have to the church, when it recently built a mega-mall. I have a difficult relationship with the temple now, in midlife, as I wonder and question. Not too long ago I did take my concerns to my temple pres. – whew – what a firestorm erupted! He was rude and condescending to say the least. I felt impressed to keep sharing my concerns in a patient and non-confrontive manner. While he calmed down a bit, he still thought I was “one of those women” and we did not part on any level of agreement. My main point to him was that parts of the temple have changed and I hope parts of the temple continue to change, for the better, for women. He is older than I am but would not admit that things have changed in the temple – strange. I understand our temples are sacred spaces, yet I feel a second class citizen there now. I believe there are many sacred spaces in this world and honor them all.

  59. Sherry: It appears this temples president is that stripe of believer who’s sure nothing significant COULD have changed, for it was all divinely ordained from the beginning…God the same today blah blah blah. No, it’s not factual, but that’s how many people’s belief operates.

  60. Beverly Campbell’s research suggests the extraordinary role of Eve in the Garden of Eden.See Eve and the Choice Made in Eden and Eve – Encyclopedia of Mormonism as examples.

  61. EOR (20):

    Frankly, I tend to be on the more liberal side of this issue. As far as I can tell from my temple experience, the only things that I covenant not to reveal are the tokens and signs of the covenants—not the actual substance of the covenants themselves. All the rest of it is sacred and should be treated as such, and out of respect for custom I don’t discuss it much outside of the temple. But honestly, you’ve heard pretty much all the rest of it before in Sunday School; it’s just presented in a slightly different way (i.e. in a video, with actors playing the parts of the Genesis story.)

    Anyway, I completely understand your feelings about wanting to know in advance what covenants you will be asked to make. And personally I see absolutely no problem with you asking / finding out / studying / someone telling you what covenants you are going to be making. In fact, I think you should do so! And actually, that is what any good temple prep course should do. And what’s more, you probably without realizing it already know what they are.

    I mean, while I’m paraphrasing, they’re basically, 1) be obedient to the Lord, 2) obey the law of sacrifice, 3) avoid any unholy or impure practices, 4) obey the law of chastity, 5) obey the law of consecration. (I think I’ve remembered them right! :) And you also covenant not to reveal each of the tokens and signs. (The “law of sacrifice” and “law of consecration” are taught in General Conference / Sunday School / seminary / Institute, and if you search lds.org for those terms, you’ll come up with lots of great stuff. Pretty straightforward. And if it’s unclear what I mean when I say tokens and signs, well – I’ll get to that in another comment, in a response to Anon for this.)

    Basically the only difference in what I just said vis-à-vis what James E. Talmage says in a passage quoted in the temple prep manual is I numbered them. 

    Personally, I think those covenants are awesome. I feel so blessed to have made them, and I think everyone would be happier if they made and abided by those covenants. So I say, why not let people know more clearly that this is what they will be covenanting in the temple, to entice them to it? :)

    The only other thing I would note is that if you are a woman, the first covenant of being obedient to the Lord more specifically involves covenanting to obey your husband “as he obeys the Lord.” I had a mother who was bold enough to basically tell me that before I received my endowment (and she is no feminist). So I knew that I was going to have to make that covenant, and it actually shaped my decision as to who I wanted to marry. (In fact, that’s the context in which my mom told me about the covenant – when I was engaged for the first time. Long story, for another time.)

    To be perfectly honest, I was not then and am still not comfortable with that covenant, but that’s okay with me. As I understand it, it’s already been amended once – when they added “as he obeys the Lord” – and I tend to hold out hope that it will be amended again. But if not, well then, I’m glad I ended up marrying a man (not the one referred to above) who would never ever even dream of asking me to “obey” him! :D

    But I have to confess, if I hadn’t known that and been prepared for it, I probably would have found it much more surprising and upsetting than I in fact did. As far as I’m aware, it is not mentioned in the temple prep manual. (I like to think it’s because people are a bit embarrassed about it. :) In that first go-round, nothing besides my own sweet mother’s explanation prepared me for it (and I think my dad alluded to it too). But the second time around, when I was engaged to the man I did end up marrying, he warned me about it also, because he’s uncomfortable with it too! ;)

    (I’m gonna stop there and give the rest of my comment responding to Anon for this in a separate post, since I guess it’s possible the moderator will have issues with this post – though my whole point is that that would be a shame! :)

  62. (I’ll start out by apologizing for always posting such sinfully long comments. Even though my high school speech coach always told me to never start anything by apologizing.)
    Anon for this (5), others have given you some good responses. But I think I might push back a bit against the people who said, “if you’re having doubts, then you shouldn’t start here” – because it sounds a bit patronizing, frankly. I think it’s fine for you to be thinking and asking these questions, as long as you’re willing to open your heart and fairly, honestly explore the possible answers. (But then, I’ve never been much of a milk-before-meat type of gal.)
    I don’t even have a huge problem with the fact that you watched those videos; I mean, I haven’t seen them, so I guess it’s possible they edited them in a sinister way or something… ? But if not, then it is what it is, right? (Of course, I don’t love the fact that somebody taped the footage and posted them online in the first place, but that’s a separate issue.) Instead, I would just say that you need to put them into perspective, and not let that out-of-context glimpse define the temple experience for you (as many others above have said).
    I guess here’s my two (three) cents:
    1. It helped me to come to terms with the “strangeness” of the temple ceremony when I put it in a broad historical perspective. Nowadays, in our post-Enlightenment, modern society, such things—ritualistic clothing, repetitive language, and “secret handshakes”—definitely can seem weird or “creepy.” But IMO that’s an anachronistic lens through which to view these things. As Doug Hudson (57) said above, there have been many “mystery religions” throughout the ages – and there still are organizations along those lines. (E.g. there are a lot of similarities and direct connections between the rites in Freemasonry and some elements of the temple ceremony.) And not even just “mystery societies,” but governments and religions and universities more generally also used to use a lot more such rituals than we do now. There are elements of this type of ritual in Judaism and in the Catholic and Episcopalian churches, and undoubtedly many other religions (as people more learned in these things than I could probably attest). Heck, just attend a university graduation ceremony – what with all of the caps and gowns and formalities all symbolizing different things.
    2. While such things can seem strange, there also is a sort of beauty to them – in symbolizing our covenants through ritual acts in a shared community of people who have respect for sacred truths and obligations. The formal courtesy and dignity of those rituals is an elevating antidote to the banality of modern living. And these rituals, particularly the prayer circle, powerfully emphasize that we are interdependent on our fellow brothers and sisters – as we cannot proceed through the temple ceremony without interacting with other people at every step.
    3. Finally, I think it can help to not take it too literally (some people do take it literally, and that’s their prerogative; I’m just saying, I don’t think you have to). Take it very seriously and treat it very sacredly–because that’s sort of the point–but try not to take it too literally. Instead, focus on contemplating the symbolic significance of things.
    So basically, I think it’s fine to admit to yourself that a lot of the specific rituals in the temple were adopted from Masonry, and even if they were like originally temple rituals that the Masons ripped off (or whatever it is the apologists argue), it’s doubtful (to me at least) that God or His angels are actually gonna be standing at the pearly gates asking you if you have the right words and signs and tokens.
    But of course, maybe they will! Who knows? Anything could happen. :) But at a minimum, they’re not gonna be like, oh this covenant-breaking schmuck over here knows all the signs and tokens perfectly; let him in! But this sweet lady over here who’s done her best all her life to abide by her covenants can’t remember the third token, so she’s outta here! I mean, come on, is that what we believe about God? I guess I can only speak for myself and say NUH-uh. As the Prophet Joseph said, “Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive; and at the same time more terrible to the workers of iniquity, more awful in the executions of His punishments, and more ready to detect in every false way, than we are apt to suppose Him to be.”
    (FWIW, I would also apply this to various gender-related issues in the temple ceremonies that some people above [including myself] have mentioned.)
    _________________________________
    I guess this gets at a key element of my spiritual outlook, what’s kept me more or less cheerfully in the faith despite my increasingly unorthodox views on a lot of issues – you should take Mormonism and make it your own, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That’s all you can really do in life (and frankly, from an epistemological perspective, that’s all anybody really does, no matter how orthodox they are), and I don’t think God would want you to do any less.
    And so along these lines, I do really encourage you to sort of reevaluate or reconsider your initial judgment of the temple based on what you saw in that video, and maybe someday consider going to the temple yourself and making the experience your own. Because I think there is a lot of transcendent beauty to the temple ceremonies (especially sealings) that you can’t find anywhere else. And it would make me sad if you go forward in life viewing them as creepy ipso facto (because you seem to me like a rather self-aware person who is honestly and earnestly trying to work these things out). :)

  63. Dave Frandin says:

    I’m a long-time lurker, and a lifelong member of the Church. I was inactive, however, for much of my adult life.. I’m just now becoming re-activated.. I’m working hard to overcome all of the bad habits I acquired during my inactivity, and to allow me to qualify for a temple recommend. I have been told by several ward members/friends that attend the temple here in Las Vegas regularly, that they frequently feel the Saviours presence there, as though He just walked out of the room they walked into.. In my life, I NEED to have that feeling of the spriit.. As for the illicit videos on Youtube from the temples, I don’t go looking for them, and I think if I stumbled onto one, I might be curious, but I doubt I’d watch it, as many have said here, the temple is SACRED.. Its God’s House after all.. We go there with his servants (Bishop/Stake President) permission…

  64. When I was in the church back in the 1980s, I was prevented from receiving my own Endowment because my very active husband (even paid tithe) would not take the one step needed and actually join the church. I had been an adult convert who was already married when I joined. At that time it was policy not to allow women married to non-members to get their Endowment even with their husband’s permission. I was also very active – multiple callings, both at the ward and the stake level, so this was like having a sore that wouldn’t heal. Eventually, when things in my marriage unravelled, it was one more bad thing. If I had been allowed to go to the Temple when I felt strongly about doing so, I’d probably still be a member today, and probably so would at least some of my children. But the Church chose him, and when he dropped out, it was him who they tried to track down and reactivate. To no avail, as it turned out – he’s back to being his original birth religion. I hope the Church is happy with their choice. At this point, they are welcome to it. And the YouTube videos? At least now I’m getting to see what was kept from me. Time heals all wounds.

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