Worthiness vs Boundary Maintenance: Thoughts on Ecclesiastical Endorsement

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

–William Bruce Cameron, “The Elements of Statistical Confusion Or: What Does the Mean Mean?”

Most educators have at least a passing familiarity with the difference between what can be counted and what actually counts. Some things that students learn–how to spell words, how to do math problems, the capital of North Dakota–can be measured easily, with machine-scored bubble sheets, and used to compare students across the country.

Other things are a lot harder to measure. And some things–things like curiosity, integrity, respect for other people’s ideas, leadership, charisma, drive–can’t really be measured at all. And the thing is, these are the things that matter most. What frustrates most people I know in the world of education is that administrators and politicians invariably mistake what can be easily measured with what actually matters, and the most measurable things come to be seen as the most important things simply because they can be so easily measured.

It works the same way with the Gospel. There are some things that can be assessed with clear-cut, yes-or-no questions that one can ask in a ten-minute interview and sometimes confirmed by observations or reports:

  • Do you smoke or drink alcohol, coffee, or tea?
  • Have you ever had sex without being married?
  • Have you ever been physically intimate with someone of your same gender?
  • Do you pay tithing?
  • Do you go to the store on Sunday?
  • Do you dress modestly?
  • Do you view pornography?
  • Do you masturbate?

We can comb through the New Testament looking for the places that Jesus talked about these things without finding a thing. These are not the things that He considered important. In fact, the only ones of them that come up at all in the New Testament are the rules regarding Sabbath observance and the dietary code–both of which serve as proof of the emptiness of the way that the Pharisees interpret the Law.

Imagine a standard worthiness interview that used a different set of questions–something like:

  • Do you love God with all your heart, might mind and soul?
  • Do you love your neighbor as yourself?  
  • Who have you recently mourned with? Comforted? Born burdens that they may be light?
  • Do you have anger in your heart against somebody? What have you done about that?
  • Which of your enemies do you love most? The least? Why is that?
  • Who have you forgiven for offending you? Who do you still need to find a way to forgive?
  • Do you ever see other people merely as instruments for your social or sexual satisfaction? When you look at somebody that you are sexually attracted to, do you make an effort to see them as human beings with desires, wants, needs, and a unique relationship to God?
  • How are you coming in your attempts to see all people the same way that God sees them and to treat them with divine charity?
  • What are some specific ways that you are consecrating your talents, time, and treasure to build the Kingdom of God?

These are the things that Christ cared about the most. They are the things that He enjoined his disciples to do. Indeed, this is what He meant by “discipleship.” An interview based on these questions could go on for hours and cause people to reflect on the way that they incorporate the most important aspects of the Gospel into their lives.

It could not, however, result in a quick-and-easy, up-or-down determination of somebody’s “worthiness.” Questions like these don’t work that way. The answer is never just “yes” and “no.” It is always “it depends.” Sometimes we do better, and sometimes we do worse–but we are always somewhere in between God and the Devil. None of us is worthy enough, and all of us can be redeemed. We all need spiritual guidance and support. We all need grace and forgiveness.

Enforcing boundaries is not the same as facilitating spiritual development.

This is why I think that the Ecclesiastical Endorsement process at LDS Universities is fundamentally broken. I am not concerned that bishops are encouraged to evaluate the worthiness of students and faculty members. But I am appalled by how shallow, narrow, and ultimately Unchristian the definition of worthiness in these interviews is. The process reduces some of the most important concepts in the human world–Chastity, Morality, Virtue, Integrity, Faithfulness, and Honor–to the simple injunction, “don’t have sex.” And every other ethical imperative is reduced to “obey stuff.”

We can do better than this. LDS Universities couldbe powerful tools for meaningful growth and spiritual development. They can be places where students can confront the deepest truths of the Gospel and explore both the cost and the glory of discipleship. They can be places where students, faculty, and ecclesiastical leaders come together and explore difficult and rewarding questions about spirituality, faith, reason, knowledge, and genuine understanding.

To do this, though, we have to stop obsessing on what can be counted and focus instead on what really counts.

 

Comments

  1. Amen. Additional questions I would love to see added:

    How do you care for the poor and needy?
    What methods have you developed to cultivate charity and empathy in your daily life?
    In what ways do you feel like you’re a hypocrite, and how are you striving to change?
    What are the foremost concerns in your prayers? Do you feel that God is listening?
    What are you too afraid to talk about, to family or to God? How can the Church help you?

    I dream of a world where “pastoral” care is truly about individualized spiritual development, starting at exactly where the person currently is — and not where they’re being judged against any shallow or measurable predetermined benchmark.

  2. David Doyle says:

    Amen! The current questions are NOT qualifications for exaltation, which is what the temple is supposed to be guiding us towards, right?

  3. Can we change Temple Recommend interviews using the same questions. Seriously. Michael’s and Carolyn’s question, imo, should be the bench marks for worthy or progressing ldsness.

  4. The odd thing with the ecclesiastical endorsement issue is that if you look at the actual questions asked, it’s essentially just a basic check that you’re participating in religious services. It literally just asks if the student attends their ward and is a member in good standing. It’s a little odd that they even need a bishop to sign off on that, since I would think it’s all entered somewhere by a ward clerk.

  5. “I dream of a world where “pastoral” care is truly about individualized spiritual development, starting at exactly where the person currently is — and not where they’re being judged against any shallow or measurable predetermined benchmark.”

    That is a world that requires professional clergy, I think.

  6. Rebecca J says:

    The whole concept of worthiness is a problem in our culture. It encourages us to measure our righteousness in relation to other, fallible humans rather than humbling ourselves before God, whose standard we all fall short of.

    BYU can keep and enforce its Honor Code without involving bishops, and bishops can do their jobs without involving BYU.

  7. I agree with Kristine that if you want clergy who can reliably guide someone through the questions you’ve listed, you’re looking for a trained professional. Personally, I far prefer the yes/no structure of temple recommend interviews as there have been bishops I really did not want to bare my soul to just so I could get access to something else. I understand the spirit of the post, but the more subjective you make the gate-keeping process, the more vulnerable you are to abuse of that process.

  8. Kevin Barney says:

    Amen and amen.

  9. @Rexicorn: I think the implicit point is that there shouldn’t BE a gatekeeping process, for anything except threats to the community itself (ie violence, sexual assault, extreme toxicity)

  10. May I say Amen. I’ve been having this exact/debate discussion with other LDS and non LDS persons. This has been applied to my thoughts about homosexuality and how the LDS church handles it.

    I think there is a huge double standard in temple worthiness anyways. How can a straight, LDS individual mess up on adultry and fornication, ask for forgiveness and then is eligible for their temple recommend when an LGBT, LDS member messes up on adultry and fornication and be never eligible for a temple recommend or may be kicked out of BYU for it?

    There are many LDS members who are straight in sexual orientation and have fallen short of intimacy issues but always make it through to the temple. I know- I’m still a mid single and I hear about how between members heavy petting may be going on. However on the flip side, some people think that’s better than going to a nightclub and enjoying oneself even if they aren’t drinking and aren’t engaging in something seedy that comes to mind when people think of nightclubs.

    Not to forget, Jesus also says that a 2nd marriage is also adultry. How many of us have been married a 2nd time and still are worthy of a temple recommend?

    I agree with you about the questions. Coveting a neighbors goods is also against the 10 commandment and I’m sure a lot of people in the LDS church is guilty of this too but still get their recommend.

    Because of this I have seriously contemplated leaving the church and my discontent isn’t just with the LDS church but with any religion that has decided to use a moral code to descriminate against others.

    There isn’t anything in the 10 commandments that speak towards homosexuality exclusively as a sin in the singular sense. There may be other passages (whose presence is limited in comparison to the other examples of sin) in the Bible that may allude to that, but the Bible and Jesus shows and teaches us there are as many sins as worse or equal to homosexuality that we all have been guilty of (ie lying whether it’s a white lie or not). Maybe not just once but like 1,000 times we’ve been guilty of. We still expect for forgiveness of these sins… so what makes us so entitled to such forgiveness and for others (ie the LGBT community) we block their entitlement for forgiveness?

    I had thought about this deeply. Usually I overlook LGBT issues because I don’t live and operate in an LGBT world. But after discussing with a coworker about the 10 commandments and encountering many Christians who believe they will go to heaven …. I applied myself to my
    Bible studies a little bit more and saw that many Christians if they were to compare their life to what the 10 commandments asks of us they would see they fall short of going to heaven… period. It made me reflect why are we always willing to cast shame on others before ourselves and ask for God’s grace for ourself before others. It made me realize that the current LDS stance on LGBT issues is 1) not equivocally fair in a logical sense but it is also 2) wholly unfair in a moral/religious sense.

  11. Michael writes in the OP, “I am not concerned that bishops are encouraged to evaluate the worthiness of students and faculty members.”

    I’m not clear on whether you think bishops ought to do this only as spiritual pastors, or whether you approve of these evaluations as a requirement for studying or teaching at BYU.

    If a worthiness interview is going to serve a gatekeeping function, then I don’t want it to be anything more than an affirmation of certain beliefs and behavioral norms. It’s nuts to have a bishop decide whether I can continue to be a student or continue to attend the temple based on whether he thinks I love my neighbor enough. Of course I don’t love my neighbor enough! That question is all about aspirational pastoral care, and it can’t be adapted for gatekeeping.

    So I’m not sure I agree that it’s fine for bishops to be encouraged to evaluate the worthiness of students and faculty members. In a pastoral interview, I don’t want my bishop to evaluate my worthiness, I want him to help me understand my spiritual condition. There’s a real difference between those things, as the OP demonstrates. Really, isn’t “evaluating worthiness” a euphemism for gatekeeping? If you’re okay with the gatekeeping function in some form, what form should it take?

  12. “Enforcing boundaries is not the same as facilitating spiritual development. This is why I think that the Ecclesiastical Endorsement process at LDS Universities is fundamentally broken. I am not concerned that bishops are encouraged to evaluate the worthiness of students and faculty members. But I am appalled by how shallow, narrow, and ultimately Unchristian the definition of worthiness in these interviews is.”

    Maybe the ecclesiastical endorsement is appropriately about enforcing boundaries rather than facilitating spiritual development. While you might say the EE determines if a student is “worthy” to attend BYU, it’s only on a very superficial level (as you have pointed out). I totally agree that the EE system is weird and should be replaced by something that makes more sense.

    The other, meatier set of questions that you propose are ones that are often discussed in talks and lessons. Ideally, the spirit is prompting us to think about those questions on a regular basis. The answers to those are deeply personal – between me and Lord. I wouldn’t want to bare my soul on those questions to anyone who would be conducting my temple recommend interview, much less as a young adult hoping to attend BYU.

  13. To further muddy the waters, your clear cut yes-and-no questions are not as clear cut as you might suspect.

    Have you ever had sex without being married?

    My uncle went to a ceremony in the Idaho temple in the winter when it was frigid cold. He thought they got married. She thought they got married.The whole family who attended thought they got married. The temple official apparently did not properly submit the paper work. They were not legally married then. They had 6 children and served in ward and stake callings including high council and bishopric.

    My aunt went back to work and claimed she was married on a job application for a position as a secretary in a law enforcement related job. They easily found out she was not legally married and had therefore lied on the application and confronted her.

    They had to go to the courthouse and get married legally. They had lied for years on tax exemptions and a variety of other legal interactions. It took them months to straighten out the mess. As to the question of whether they had been lying on temple recommend interviews, they technically but unwittingly had been lying. My aunt actually felt quite guilty about it. Their bishop decided to overlook it since it was not their fault. He didn’t have to do that. Neither spouse had to get married “again” if they didn’t want to be married. If they had found this out during the proceedings for a divorce, it might have been a bigger mess. This was the premise of a movie a few years ago. (Maybe more than one.) When gay marriage became legal, the answer to this question for a gay couple could very well be no.

    ***

    Tithing is easy for people to calculate who are paid a salary or by the hour. What if you work as part of a family corporation or say a family farm? You might own a vehicle or a horse used for work and play. The boundary between personal ownership, family ownership and corporate ownership of property, expenses and income might become very blurry. It may well be impossible to know how much money you clear or the level of your lifestyle in comparison to a person being paid money for for their work.

    ***

    What if the bishop sends you to run over to the store across the street from the church to buy the sacrament bread which you first discovered was forgotten at the beginning of the sacrament hymn? What if the cashier is a member and just gives it to you?. (We used to call it “sprinting for bread” and it happened more than once.)

    ***

    Thread jack warning: What exactly is modesty? Or pornography?

  14. I heard Truman Madsen give this talk over 50 years ago. He was talking about temple worthiness, but getting to the same point. Except as I recall he had reduced the number of questions to four. (Please don’t ask me to remember them–I was not quite a teenager when I heard the talk and didn’t take notes.)

    One minor disagreement: there’s little evidence in the New Testament that Jesus considered some things unimportant. Why would the evangelists have spent time repeating anything that Jesus said that was consistent with Rabbinical teachings. But Matthew did slip and let one hint, in 23:23: “ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” So, of course, judgment, mercy and faith are the weightier matters of the law that we ignore at our peril. But we cannot use our freedom in Christ to leave undone those other matters. As Paul would say, God forbid.

  15. Loursat:

    I think this is where I have to applaud the LDS faith where we believe the Bible is with error. This is true. Compounding it with the issue that most Christians of this day and age have no concept of the social, political norms of Israel. So our interpretations of inerrant scripture can be shaky, at worse faulty. Furthermore, we are also establishing faith in an incomplete document where Books have been removed or translated poorly, etc.

    For example, I have met Christians who say that the old rules don’t apply to the new covenant Jesus brought us. However, what old rules are they considering? It’s different demnominations picking and choosing what is now valid. Thithing is considered to be of the old guard for many mainstream
    Christians and is not considered important. However, just because it’s not mentioned in the New Testament more than once it doesn’t mean it’s not a fundamental part of being a Christian. After all Jesus was a Jew and believed and upheld the mosaic law when he walked the earth during his mortal life.

    So applying this to your question… I agree with you, I wouldn’t want a bishop to determine my worthiness basically because our roadmap of what is morally offensive or morally good has been skewed due to the Bible 1) being not inerrant 2) modern day understanding of how the moral laws of jesus’ time were applied is really misguided (ask any practicing
    Jew) 3) there are scriptures (books) that are missing 4) even we as Mormons are missing parts of the Book of Mormon.

    What we do know is that the LDS church has its rules and code of conduct that you have to agree to uphold. If you don’t, you can be excommunicated or can you can simply choose to leave (if they allow you to) and attend another faith that follows more along the lines of your personal convictions to how Jesus/God would want their church to operate. I say this because it is hard to conclude if Jesus is as liberal as the New Testament makes him out to be…. considering a lot of what is written in the New Testament didn’t come from Jesus’ own writings but from Apostles who didn’t always agree on how to spread Jesus’ teachings (Apostles Paul seemed to have rubbed the other Apostles wrong more than once).

    So if we still have questions that are a part of some gatekeeping structure… you will find that the mosaic law was full of these and Jesus believed in upholding the Mosaic law even though he was accused of violating them (many modern Christians don’t realize as a Rabbi you are required to know and thoroughly recite all societal and moral laws and Jesus excelled at this so much so he would be the equivalent of today’s top and most high price lawyer, he could always find a Jewish law that superseded or circumvented another Jewish law so in reality he never broke a Mosaic law) and so there isn’t anything really wrong with having some gatekeeping questions as this is part of how Jewish temples operated. There were 613 commandments in the Torah for Jews to abide by. The Jews never expected for Gentiles to abide by these rules, the expectations were quite less and were given a fewer number of commandments (7 laws of
    Noah) to follow. If LDS faith declares to follow the customs of the Jews during a certain time period in Jewish history you gotta ask yourself what sect of Judaism are they following and to expect gatekeeping questions to a part of LDS history.

  16. richellejolene says:

    I really like the questions you and Carolyn have proposed. I would absolutely love to have that conversation with a spiritual leader I trusted. My experience in the church would be transformed.

    Perhaps this isn’t a widespread idea, but growing up and throughout my young adulthood, it’s been my understanding that you really only go to see the bishop for “serious stuff” (which, as you mention, is pretty much coded as sex, drinking/drugs, or weightier sins). Anything else, like the proposed questions, would be something you’d be expected or encouraged to pray about, write in your journal about, perhaps consult a loved one. The bishop is … too busy? Too unlikely to give you a meaningful experience (per Kristine’s point re: untrained clergy)? Not sure. I’ve had some very kind bishops in my day, but it’s hard to imagine the kind of pastoral care you’re advocating for because of how limited a role bishops have played in my spiritual development. I’d be very happy if we moved in that direction as a church, with all leaders being trained to minister and counsel congregants in a more meaningful way.

  17. richellejolene says:

    ^ As a P.S. to my comment above, I remember it being a source of relief for some fellow BYU ward members that they didn’t know all the bishop that well or had never been to his office. It meant you hadn’t had to see him for “something serious.” That’s the kind of backwards thinking produced by the ecclesiastical endorsement culture of worthiness.

  18. These sorts of questions are where I’ve taken myself, years ago.

    I am fairly persuaded that confession (out loud, to another person) is good for the soul, and I wish for a spiritual adviser to have a conversation with. I see almost no role for a judge, for a gatekeeper, for a disciplinarian. (The “almost” begs for another different conversation.) if we conflate roles, the adviser role loses. Every time. For most Mormons that’s all we have ever known and it is a challenge to imagine confession without judgment, conversation without consequences. Without consequences other than getting better at some of those un-measurable qualities mentioned in the OP.

    Regarding the call for a professional clergy, I do not believe that’s necessary, although training and education are surely beneficial. There is an argument that a professional can learn to manage both judge and confessor roles. I don’t believe it is possible. But I am confident that it is far easier and more reliable to separate the roles.

  19. I agree with Loursat that “If a worthiness interview is going to serve a gatekeeping function, then I don’t want it to be anything more than an affirmation of certain beliefs and behavioral norms.” If the question is whether I love God or my neighbor enough, those who reply in the affirmative are likely to be like Lancelot in the musical Camelot:

    “The soul of a knight should be a thing remarkable,
    His heart and his mind as pure as morning dew.
    With a will and a self-restraint
    That’s the envy of ev’ry saint
    He could easily work a miracle or two.
    To love and desire he ought to be unsparkable,
    The ways of the flesh should offer no allure.
    But where in the world
    Is there in the world
    A man so untouched and pure?
    (C’est moi!)

    C’est moi! C’est moi, I blush to disclose.
    I’m far too noble to lie.
    That man in whom
    These qualities bloom,
    C’est moi, c’est moi, ’tis I.
    I’ve never strayed
    From all I believe;
    I’m blessed with an iron will.
    Had I been made
    The partner of Eve,
    We’d be in Eden still.
    C’est moi! C’est moi! The angels have chose
    To fight their battles below,
    And here I stand, as pure as a pray’r,
    Incredibly clean, with virtue to spare,
    The godliest man I know!
    C’est moi!”

  20. Left Field says:

    Rexicorn:
    Does the clerk of a BYU ward really track sacrament meeting attendance? How does that work logistically? What about students who attend their home ward? Are all clerks in Utah Valley expected to keep records of attendance by BYU students?

  21. Your questions after beautiful ones for a disciple of Christ to ask themselves.

    If combined with actually following every word (as best as we are able) we hear from the prophets past and present in conference, I can promise from personal experience that the veil can be made very thin and life altering and defining revelation will be the result.

    Thanks for the thought in putting the questions together.

  22. @Left Field: I know they’re supposed to take attendance (plus there’s attendance in second and third hour), but I don’t know how accurate it is. It just seems like it should be reasonably easy to track without requiring a bishop to “endorse” it.

  23. John Mansfield says:

    Eh, BYU’s eccelsiastical endorsement is the equivalent of a state school’s residency requirements, keeping the school’s enrollment targeted at the population it primarily exists to serve, and doesn’t need to be justified as having some grand higher meaning. “Are you a resident of Indiana. Really? Before a month ago?” “Are you a participating Mormon? Really? Without resort to long-winded explanations?”

  24. Rob Perkins says:

    I put this on Facebook but I’ll leave it here too.

    When you use the shallower evaluative methods to determine the endorsement in a private interview, you model that behavior and that standard for students.

    When you model that behavior as an ultimate authority figure for a learner, she will learn it more quickly than any lecture. And then, when she sees another student not dressed in Sunday attire on Fast Sunday during the only meal served in University Housing that day, she may police another young woman for the clothing she’s wearing, warning her, without a written standard, that her attire is not acceptable. She’d have to if it was her job to check people into the dining hall.

    If, say, that other young woman is suffering from an undiagnosed personality disorder, and had just panicked in a social situation at church two hours prior, barely off the panic attack and hoping to get her only Sunday meal before another crowd forms around her….

    Well, then, you just might make it possible for a fragile person to decide to attempt suicide, quietly, by self-starvation rather than go through that gauntlet again.

    That sounds pretty extreme, doesn’t it? It’s a sadness that it’s true.

    It happened to one of my family, and was pretty much the day that quiet death became her goal. (Oh yeah, and: No refunds) It took her two full years of careful medical and family attention to recover.

    Nobody was individually to blame, or at fault. Nobody there was the root cause of her problems, which had begun years prior and which she’d hidden from everyone. Everyone on campus meant their influence kindly. They certainly figured that if she’d only conform, she’d be OK.

    So it was a catalyst, rather than a cause. The result was still isolation and despair. And the after effects have rippled throughout my family for three full calendar years since that Fast Sunday. But the catalysis was itself caused by the thing Michael Austin discussed here.

  25. Truly excellent post. Thank you, Michael.

  26. I have just about as little patience for the “Jesus didn’t say it, so it must not be important” as I have for pharisaical obsession with rules. Jesus may not have said the word “pornography”, but he did raise the bar for sexual purity by stating that a man commits adultery merely by looking on a woman to lust after her. Also, to imply that Jesus’ focus on higher principles somehow negated prior commandments totally misrepresents His teachings.

  27. Yep, dsc, and he raised the bar for anger, forgiveness, charity, humility, and on . . . That we can only see sex in everything is one of the points here. No one is saying Jesus did not condemn lustful behavior. He did. Clearly. But he also condemned unrighteous dominion. Both, left unchecked, will get you kicked out of heaven. Only one will get you kicked out of BYU.

    BYU has the prerogative to prefer bad-hearted-but-ecclesiastically-endorsed Mormons over good-hearted-but-ecclesiastically-barred-others. Doesn’t mean it squares with the gospel or with the Lord.

  28. James Stone says:

    “We can comb through the New Testament looking for the places that Jesus talked about these things without finding a thing. ”

    Kind of strang a Mormon writer would only comb through the New Testament and not the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the words of latter-day prophets.

  29. Left Field says:

    Rexicorn:
    Sure. But it’s one thing for the clerk to say that 87 people attended sacrament meeting. It’s quite another to list their names so each person’s attendance can be reported. In any ward, it’s unlikely that the bishop or the clerk could name every individual in sacrament meeting, or identify on sight every person on the ward roster. BYU wards would have the added difficulty of [I presume; I never belonged to a BYU ward when I was a student] being formed anew mostly of strangers at the beginning of each academic year.

    In my experience, individual attendance is rarely tracked these days in Sunday School, and only sporadically in Priesthood. Presumably, BYU wards could make it a point to pass around a sign-in sheet in both meetings, and work from that. But it would be easy enough to have someone sign in for you, and it seems likely that the university powers that be would be more interested in sacrament meeting attendance than PH/RS/SS.

    Mostly, I just wondered about the logistics of either a bishop or a clerk being able to track any one person’s church attendance, take into account illness and travel, people who came late, or left early, or sat in the foyer, and then make a reliable report on the attendance of every person in the ward. I would hate to be kicked out of school just because the bishop or clerk kinda doesn’t remember seeing me too much. Maybe I was sick one week, traveling home from a game once, sat hidden behind a tall person one Sunday, went to church in my girlfriend’s ward a couple of weeks, went to my home ward once, and maybe the bishop just didn’t notice me a couple of times, or forgot he saw me, and didn’t know who I was the first few weeks.

    And then you’ve got all that to keep track of for every single ward member. I honestly don’t know how a bishop or clerk gets data on church attendance with sufficient confidence to be able to withdraw someone’s endorsement. Does anyone here have experience in a BYU ward to know how a bishop keeps accurate records on individual attendance?

  30. What is interesting is that you have only asked 8 questions in your example of current worthiness questions and minimised each of those questions to a very basic / crude understanding.
    Lets look at the ones you missed –
    1. Do you believe in God, the Eternal Father, in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?
    This does not use the word Love – but it goes further than your question as it also mentions Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost. Its range covers a lot more members of our Godhead. Not sure why you excluded the other two members. Your question did not even ask if the believed the Gospel was true? Why would you want to attend a temple of a church you did not believe in? Why this was missed.
    2. Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
    The Temple is about Priesthood keys, you need to recognise that Priesthood if you are going to go into the Temple and make those Covenants.
    3. Do you sustain the other General Authorities and the local authorities of the Church?
    This is partially covered by “Who have you recently mourned with? Comforted? Born burdens that they may be light?” and “How are you coming in your attempts to see all people the same way that God sees them and to treat them with divine charity?” and “What are some specific ways that you are consecrating your talents, time, and treasure to build the Kingdom of God?”
    Do you know who carry some of the biggest burdens – our church leaders? Do you mourn with them and offer to help them carry their burdens by serving. And not serving by bringing them a plate of cookies once a year but actually serving in your church callings? Ministering to the lonely at church – or staying in your little cliques so the lonely only have the Bishop to talk to? Are you treating your church leaders with the same respect and lack of judgement that you request they treat you? Are you willing to forgive them when they are not perfect? How are you consecrating your talents, time and treasure to the Kingdom of God by serving in the church callings assigned to you? Or do you attend your correct ward? Happy to consecrate everything just don’t ask me to have faith in that Bishop.
    4. Do you live the law of chastity?
    Interesting that these questions never appear in this interview. Have you ever had sex without being married? Have you ever been physically intimate with someone of your same gender? Do you dress modestly? Do you view pornography? Do you masturbate? You took one question and made it into five questions which gives the impression that the interview is only about sex. In reality it is one question out of 14 not 5 out 9. Also it does not ask for past history as your worthiness questions imply – but your current status.
    Also when the Saviour told the woman taken in adultery to “go thy way and sin no more” he didn’t ask first “Did you see him as human being and not just a sexual attraction? You did Ok that’s alright then”
    5. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
    Covered in these questions – Do you have anger in your heart against somebody? What have you done about that? Which of your enemies do you love most? The least? Why is that? Who have you forgiven for offending you? Who do you still need to find a way to forgive? You will find family is the majority of the people most people have in this list.
    6. Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?
    7. Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel?
    Covered in what are some specific ways that you are consecrating your talents, time, and treasure to build the Kingdom of God?
    8. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
    Covered in Do you love your neighbor as yourself?
    9. Are you a full-tithe payer?
    Covered in what are some specific ways that you are consecrating your talents, time, and treasure to build the Kingdom of God?
    10. Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
    You summarised this in a Worthiness interview as Do you smoke or drink alcohol, coffee, or tea? The real question in the interview covers a lot more than that. Healthy living, no illegal drugs or legal drugs used wrongly.
    11. Have you ever been divorced or are you now separated from your spouse under order of a civil court? If yes, (a) – Are you current in your support payments and other financial obligations for family members, as specified by court order or in other written, binding commitments? (b) Were there any circumstances of transgression in connection with your divorce or separation that have not been previously resolved with your bishop?
    This question also covers “Do you have anger in your heart against somebody? What have you done about that?” “Which of your enemies do you love most? The least? Why is that?” “Who have you forgiven for offending you? Who do you still need to find a way to forgive?”
    12. If you have received your temple endowment — (a) Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple? (b) Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?
    Covered in “what are some specific ways that you are consecrating your talents, time, and treasure to build the Kingdom of God?” , as the temple garment is a sign of your covenants of consecration.
    13. Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?
    Your questions do not offer this wonderful question. A chance to seek the full benefit of the Atonement.
    14. Do you consider yourself worthy in every way to enter the temple and participate in temple ordinances?
    This covers all of your better questions. There are so many more questions that could be asked about charity that you have missed – by summarising like this they can all be covered rather than go through a shopping list.

  31. EE: Without quibbling regarding your extrapolations, the process leads to the kind of examination the OP speaks to. One of many ways, but appropriately one that works within Mormon traditions. I take it as supportive, not counter to, the OP.

    However, I would pause for two observations:
    1. For purposes of a temple recommend interview—the gatekeeping type—priesthood leaders are instructed not to do this very thing. Just ask the questions as written.
    2. Expanded into what I would call an “examination of conscience,” and if done reasonably well, the questions no longer lend themselves to yes and no answers and if forced into binaries almost everyone will fail. That is in fact how it’s supposed to work.

  32. it's a series of tubes says:

    EE, the questions you posted are out of date. In particular, 11 and 14 are no longer as you posted.

  33. Leo: I accept that there are pluses and minuses. There are probably no perfect solutions in this life. I definitely think that separation would be a plus, a rather big net plus, but I understand the argument on the other side.

    However, Rod Dreher and the Catholic scandals of the moment are an example of something else. Namely, the problem that the (Catholic) bishops knew and did nothing or even assisted in a cover-up. I expect the same is happening as we speak in Mormon circles as well. That is, bishops and other leaders who have done wrong in truly damaging ways are permitted to recover quickly and go on. I submit that this is not a problem of separating confessor and judge, but a failure of leadership and especially a failure to take necessary and proper action when an otherwise respected person is known to be hurting others.

  34. EE: The temple recommend interview is different than the ecclesiastical endorsement one.

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