I have long been an advocate of the need for better temple preparation classes and materials. This is grounded in my experience actually teaching the temple prep course (the entire course in one instance; individual lessons by assignment in a couple of others.)
I was surprised to learn in the process of teaching that course that it doesn’t actually prepare one to go through the temple. It is “temple prep” in name only. Rather, it is pretty much just a course in gospel living.
The old saying “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear” is applicable here. And we’re not adequately preparing our people for this experience (in my view, anyway).
I think part of the problem is this idea that we can’t talk about anything that happens inside of the temple outside of the temple. But I don’t think that is right. There are certain, limited, express things that fall into that category, but most members are needlessly overbroad in what they include under that rubric.
Somewhere along the way in a true temple prep class, the instructor should basically walk the class through the process from stem to stern. Someone who has been attending the temple faithfully for decades simply cannot remember what it is like to go through for the first time. You can’t take anything for granted. You need to cover things like what will happen at the recommend desk, the physical layout of that first temple, temple clothing, what will happen in the dressing room, obtaining a new name, and on and on. This kind of prep isn’t happening widely, and in my view it should be.
I know people whose fathers were temple presidents or workers who privately gave them this kind of substantive preparation, and it made a huge difference in the quality of their experience with the temple. And this kind of experience should not be limited to those who happen to have relatives who know what they’re doing; it should be more broadly available to our young people and new converts.
The need for genuine temple prep will become even more necessary with the flood of young women getting their own endowments at 19 in advance of serving missions. There are some aspects of the experience that will be easier for them to negotiate if they have been properly prepared; it is a bad idea to just throw them through the doors and hope for the best.
What do you think about this? Am I right, or do you think the existing temple prep materials are adequate? What would you like to see included in a temple prep course?