Discussing the Temple Initiatory from a Faithful Feminist Perspective

Bored in VernalMormon, temple 59 Comments

Avatar-BiVI recently had my temple recommend renewed and I’ve been thinking about the temple initiatory for women and wishing I could discuss it from a faithful, feminist perspective. Unfortunately, there are some obstacles which stand in my way of doing this. Number one, of course, is the proscription from discussing certain sacred aspects of the temple. I’m a bit more liberal than many in talking of my temple experiences. I think there are certain parts in the temple which we are clearly told not to discuss, and I’m willing to draw the line there. But can we talk about the initiatory?

Most Mormons won’t talk about anything remotely associated with the temple. Even among other endowed members.

So bringing up any of my wonderings on this subject with fellow Latter-day Saints will be met with resistance.

Next obstacle is my physical distance from the nearest Temple.  I currently live about two hours away from the nearest Temple.  There were some times in my life when I lived so far away that I could only attend once a year.  But even when I live close enough that I can go frequently, it’s not easy to find someone with whom I can discuss my concerns while sitting around the Celestial Room.

The quiet, meditative setting of the Celestial Room is not always conducive to a robust investigation of the sort I am contemplating. I yearn to talk about the 2005 changes to the initiatory ordinance. I loved doing initiatories before the changes, and I found a lot of spirituality, intimacy, and symbolism have been removed. I’d like to talk about these things with a faithful LDS woman who misses this as well, but isn’t about to lose her recommend over it. I’d like to find someone who isn’t freaked out by the presence of large tubs of water in early SLC Temple ordinance rooms and the liberal pouring of consecrated oil from large horns over the crown of the head. But I’d want her to be feminist and knowledgeable enough to also discuss the differences between the male and female versions of the pre-2005 ordinance and their implications for feminists. We’d talk about the words “having authority,” “under proper authority,” and “now authorized.” We’d discuss esoteric, mystical, symbolist, and romantic approaches to the initiatory. We’d speak of the importance of ritual and what, if any, priesthood is exercised by women ordinance workers.

Do you think I can hold out any hope for such a discussion? Must I always hold the sacred/secret deep within a cavern in my heart, never to see the light of day? Or do you think that Mary Ellen Robertson might be able to arrange a Friday night Sunstone temple session, complete with discussion period in the upper Assembly room, as a special part of this year’s Symposium?

I can always dream…

Comments 59

  1. My big question feminist right now about the endowment is the identification of the individual in the scalloped seashell in the Salt Lake Celestial room. Is it an unknown woman, or is it Christ? (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_1dSBe3Fg-lg/SP9V33hXXLI/AAAAAAAAAOU/jJctbKeRrS0/s1600-h/Aphrodite.JPG)

    These commentators seem to believe it’s a woman, but without verification.

    1. It is a she and she looks very much like Aphrodite, when i asked about I was told that it had no significance and was only put there because Brigham Young liked it. So who knows?

  2. Huh, I thought there was a temple in the Vernal area.
    As for the 2005 changes, the most obvious thought for me was convenience (especially given that most people administering temple ordinances are old and arthritic), and this matches the “remain seated” addition. The missus suspects other motives as well.

    Mom said that my uncle said that when he went through the temple for the first time back in the 60s (so take this with a grain of salt) that there were no shields, so hygiene became an issue.

    as for not repeating (and opinions will vary): we covenant to not reveal specific things there, and we are reminded of the sacred nature of what is done there. But what happened in Gethsemane and Golgotha was sacred too, and we discuss that to build faith.

  3. When I was HP group leader I tried to arrange such a discussion group with the Temple Pres. for my group to ask questions. Temple Pres said no. Not sure what you can achieve just discussing it with like minded soul except support.

    1. The temple presidents know no more than you do.
      When I went to SLake I asked to see the president to ask questions and was told they know nothing.
      I then met with the recorder who works in the temple full time even even then some of my questions could not be answered.
      But the recorder found them interesting

  4. Geoff @ A — interesting.

    Andrew — that is what I thought as well, since there has been some discussion of same.

    SilverRain — this would make an excellent part of a women’s retreat.

  5. Yes, I’m agree with Andrew that the prohibition on temple talk, isn’t as prohibitive as you suggest. I’m a completely pre-2005 soul, so no clue about the changes (although it sounds like some attempt to limit women’s claims to priesthood authority), but the entire women/priesthood issue is maddening. This isn’t limited to the temple, but it is pretty clear from pronouncements of various church presidents and general authorities that women are priestesses in the hereafter. If that is the case, then shouldn’t it just be a matter of time before the women are given their rightful place? Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, and all.

    Dream away, BIV, but why not discuss all those things? “esoteric, mystical, symbolist, and romantic approaches to the initiatory.” [Hugh Nibley did it all the time.]

  6. I really see no reason that faithful, temple-going Latter-day Saints cannot discuss the Temple in an appropriate setting, not necessarily in the Temple. Seems to me, that the prohibition is about the old “casting pearls before swine” bit. On the other hand, one has to be sufficiently mature to know, when, where and how to do this.

    BIV, you are.

  7. RE: #1 {“Mom said that my uncle said that when he went through the temple for the first time back in the 60s (so take this with a grain of salt) that there were no shields, so hygiene became an issue.”}

    There must be solid documentation somewhere to clarify this interesting detail. When were shields first employed? On a personal basis, I know that shields were in use in the Salt Lake Temple by September 1967. I also remember my mother making her own shield when I was a boy in the 1950s.

    The following excerpts trace an element of similar practice – preparatory to other forms of ritual – back at least to 1826 in the Northeastern United States, quoted here from William Morgan (1774-1826), Illustrations of Masonry, by One of the Fraternity, Who Has Devoted Thirty Years to the Subject. “God said, Let there be Light, And there was light.” Printed for the Author, William Morgan. (N.p. [but Rochester, New York], 1827; first published 1826 at Batavia, New York, and published in some thirty editions by 1830,) . . .

    “The candidate . . . is divested of all his apparel, (shirt excepted) and furnished with a pair of drawers kept in the lodge for the use of candidates; . . .” p. 18.

    “The candidate, as before, is taken into the preparation room and prepared in the manner following; All his clothing taken off, except his shirt; furnished with a pair of drawers; . . . ,” p. 45

  8. yes, I too would like to hear about ‘no shields.’ I have never heard that before.

    biv, I like the 2005 changes. there is much less ‘yuck’ factor IMO. yes I agree that it is less symbolic, but I think it is easier for temple workers, and more pleasant for patrons. I view it as a win-win. but you have to understand that I really don’t like symbolism in the first place, so that affects my opinions.

    if the gospel is supposed to be simple (we hear that in the church a lot) then the symbolism makes the gospel less simple IMO. I don’t think most people understand the symbolism anyway, so for most people, the loss of symbolism has little effect on their temple experience. but I understand that for those that enjoy symbolism, it can feel like a loss.

  9. I like all the changes to the whole temple experience since the first time I went through in 1987. Bring on the nicer, gentler stuff and leave out the yuck.

  10. To any nonmember reading this, it sounds bizarre– “leave out the yuck”??? What the heck are you doing in there??

    When I took out my endowments a few years ago, women made reference to how much easier things are now. BiV, I would love to have those conversations, too. I know when I go, I’m in the Celestial Room minutes, not 10s of minutes. Maybe the thing to do is to plan to go with someone who is like-minded, and plan to allow the time to have those conversations. Is there really no one out there who is on your wave-length?

  11. “To any nonmember reading this, it sounds bizarre– “leave out the yuck”??? What the heck are you doing in there??”

    Even more bizarre is the notion of “shields”?

    I’ll never know. I’ll never want to know. Sad.

  12. To a not-yet-endowed convert, let me assure you it does sound bizarre.

    This is the first mention I’ve ever heard of temple ceremony outside the context of its relation to Freemasonry. As a Mason, I think (once again, as a member of less than one year) the Church should adopt a method of discussion of its ritual roughly similar to the Masonic one: roughly discuss the stories and lessons of the temple without being quite so open as to reveal anything truly secret. This would encourage discussion and meditation on temple symbolism, and create a large-scale community similar to the Masonic one, from which I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration and enlightenment.

    1. to all of you, this discussion is exactly why the church doesn’t like us discussing the Temple Ordinances period. This discussion has already put doubt in at least one non endowed persons mind and I think that’s exactly what the person who started this discussion is trying to do. Satan works in mysterious ways.

  13. My mission president happened to be a temple recorder for quite a number of years before his tenure as a mission president and once told all of us missionaries what exactly you could discuss and what you couldn’t. Born in Vernal, it’s about what you expected – except for the things we are expressly told not to talk about, everything else you can talk about.

    He says the main reason why we have such difficulty talking about the endowment or the initiatory is because we simply don’t understand it as members. After all, a member can talk about baptisms for the dead very easily, right? They’re just baptisms, you know, done in proxy for people who died before they had a chance to be baptized. Easy peasy. But because so many members don’t really understand what the endowment or initiatory is about, they struggle to talk about it or are uncomfortable with the ordinances themselves and so they don’t really like to talk about it because they don’t really get it.

    I think another reason people don’t like talking about it is because of the whole “don’t even go near the line” mentality. Like Jeff said, it’s also a no casting pearls before swine thing. But my mission president talked openly in meetings with other missionaries and in sacrament meetings about the covenants you make and other things about the temple, and so I think it’s all right as long as you’re respectful. However, my parents don’t believe me so I don’t bring up any discussion about temple ordinances around them. :p

  14. ted, not even all temple workers understand things the same way. my mission pres was a temple sealer. he flat out said that women that administer initiatory ordinances absolutely hold the melchizedek priesthood, but are only supposed to use it inside the temple. when I asked a temple worker inside the celestial room, she disagreed and said women act under the direction of the melchizedek priesthood, but don’t actually hold the melchizedek priesthood. so there is a difference of opinion among temple workers.

    this whole idea of ‘it’s not secret, it is sacred’ is really confusing for members. when we go to the temple, we are explicitly warned that we should only talk about temple ordinances within the walls of the temple. those that take the advice most literally decide it is just easier not to talk about anything than accidentally disclose something they shouldn’t.

    1. I was told by a Temple President, that after a women receives her endowment and actually wears the robes of the holy priesthood that she does, in fact, hold the priesthood, but women are not ordained to any office of the priesthood. When she is set apart as a Temple worker, she has authority within the walls of the temple, to annoint and seal. In the first one hundred years of the church women also could annoint during sickness or other women during childbirth, but if a man who actually held an office of the priesthood was available, they should have always been asked. By the 1930’s this practice was asked by the President to not continue because it was not being used properly.
      I love the church and though there have been changes, I do understand them and I am sure there will be more to come.
      The initiatory ceremony has beautiful words, I encourage you to go through and listen closely. The endowment (the literal translation of the word means gift), is indeed a gift to men and women alike.
      As a woman in the church, I don’t feel I need to hold a priesthood office such as deacon, priest, or elder.
      I know that outside the temple in the case of an emergency I can give a blessing in the name of Jesus Christ; I simply cannot annoint or seal it with oil or pronounce authority of holding an office in the priesthood. I am perfectly fine with that.
      Not only did a Temple President speak to me of these things so did my grandmother and great grandmother who were alive in the 1800’s and early 1900’s and were neighbors with a prophet. I do not question my faith, I am happy with the generous portion the Lord has given me. I will happily bear children and rejoice that men hold the offices of the priesthood. I study, I pray, I listen to our Prophet and I let the Holy Spirit speak to my heart.

  15. I am unfortunately bored in Vernal, Utah also. I came here due to health reasons and could no longer work. So my support system was here. I have not been active for a very, very long time because of simple questions that could not be answered by my instructor in the MTC. Like “why do the temples have Masonic symbols on the exterior of the temple?” Why are the “secret” handshakes, ect inside of the temple the same as the Masons?” I am not saying anything is wrong with the Masons, but why if it is the one and only true church would you mimic another? Also, I have never believed that God would punish one faith over another, meaning there are so many wonderful people who believe in God and Jesus Christ, who are good, honest people. I choose not to believe that they are left out, until ‘you’ teach them in the hear-after.

    Unfortunately, it has been my experience that members of the church are extremely judgmental, when they should be teaching by example and showing love to “all” people on this earth. Many lessons could be learned by the various cliques that have taken over the church. #1-Judge not, lest you be judged. #2- This isn’t a fashion show, or an opportunity to show off your status with money in a house of God. #3- The women and men of the LDS faith have proven to be the worst at “gossip”, in the state of Utah, at least.

    There is so much more to what you should be doing with your lives, rather than making sure so-n-so didn’t see you drink a coke. Everyone knows the “church” owns over 1/2 of the stock for Coke anyway. Which brings me to another thought, why do you teach out of guilt, or threats that “you won’t make it to heaven”. It is not your decision nor your right to say such a thing to another who has been given free will to choose. What if…..you were to take a moment to actually think for yourself, really think for yourself, and ask God yourself? There has been a lot of good that the church has done, right along with the other churches of the world.

    I would recommend you all take some time and read “Conversations with God”, and you might have a very reverent eye-opening experience. If your not a reader, rent the movie. I cried all 7 times I watched it, because the Spirit of God speaks to us in a phrase, a song, a person, a movie, even through a view of beauty. He speaks to each of us, not just one man. I am not pushing this book alone, you can find thousands of books out there that will open your eyes, rather than keep you as a “sheeple” following the crowd to fit in. I dare you to try it….

    1. I think you are way off the original subject. However, i am not aware of any exclusively masonic symbols on our temples perhaps you can email and tell which one you think are. You must have had some pretty duff instructors in the MTC if they could not answer those basic questions. Not sure what coke has do with anything it’s not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom The rest of what you say is OK there are many Christians in all churches who do not live up to the highest expectations of their faith, so what?? You do seem to be very judgemental in your own comments maybe you should examine your own criticisms, you will then see see that they apply to many people in all churches.

  16. “Bring on the nicer, gentler stuff and leave out the yuck.”

    This one for old-timers–Every now and then I tell my wife that I am going to get a “Pale Ale” (beer) t-shirt to wear. Boy, does she get mad. I bring it up with her every so often, just to see her nostrils flare. Never fails.

  17. “Snopes”? the site that filters out what is okay to say about our current Administration to protect it? Yeah, yeah, I know, “Snopes” is the new Book of Mormon for a lot of you. All I am saying is, read, do some research for yourself, open your eyes and your minds. Just because your Stake Pres said it doesn’t mean it is so…use your mind. Clearly, I opened a can of worms, but you can look at it in a good way or you can clamp down the blinders and choose not to see. I apologize for offending you.

  18. There is a lot of things I miss from the 1980s Endowment. I miss the penalties, which were real vehicles for me. I also miss a lot of the language surrounding the Christian Minister. I wish they could have taken the minister out, but left some of that language in. (I totally approve of the changes in language surrounding woman’s covenants, and wish it would go farther in the same direction!) I think these moves reflect realities in the world that can’t be avoided. The new initiatories have lost something in intimacy, but gained in that same area, and are also much faster. 🙂

    I think that discussions can be had about the temple. But I pretty much keep it to people who I really trust personally and spiritually, and then talk about them in a reverent way in a private place. Basically my father and basically late at night in his house. 🙂 ~

  19. BiV, it would be absolutely awesome to have a Sunstone session in a temple chapel. I love hearing from faithful, thoughtful, and informed people, and a session like that would teach me so much. It’d be like a dream… oh, wait…

  20. #15,

    Freemasonry is not a church, but it is one of the better repositories of early Christian practices. If you were leader of a Church with the objective of restoring Christ’s own, wouldn’t you end up borrowing pretty liberally from said repository? As far as the grips being the same, from what I’ve seen in various “exposés”, they’re not even close.

    I’ll admit that the Western Mormon experience may be different, but I’ve never gotten the idea that church is a “fashion show”. On the contrary, I’m usually an island of polo in a sea of white oxford.

    Half of a publicly-traded company would almost certainly mean a controlling interest. We’d hear about it if the Church “owned” a cola company (by the way, I’ve heard the exact same rumor about Pepsi). Also, “the new Book of Mormon” being a Democratic Party puff piece doesn’t show a lot of consistency with Mormon demographics.

  21. Wow, “Consider . . .”. I thought about responding to some of what you said, but I’m too confused, even after sifting through the gross generalizations and faulty “facts”.

  22. my parents were very old school, and would not discuss anything about the temple. ever. in my late teen years i had read an excerpt from a book that an ex member wrote about the initiatory part of the endowment and it FREAKED ME OUT. i asked my mom about it and she gave me some pat answer about trusting Heavenly Father, etc. it didnt shake my testimony, but it kept me out of the temple for years after my divorce and there was nothing(like a jackass of a husband)keeping me away. it wasnt until a woman(much younger than me)who i was friendly with, but didnt know well, asked me why i had never went. she had just gone through for the first time for her impending sealing and when i searched for words to diplomatically excuse my absence, she flat out said “its the initiatory, isnt it?” she went on to tell me how she had heard things and she was freaked out too, but they had changed stuff and it was the best part. she didnt give me details, but she told me enough to ease my anxiety. i made an appointment almost immediately, got my recommend and went through for the first time when i was 39 years old. i love going to the temple and do the initiatory work whenever i can. i agree that there needs to be a more open forum to discuss the temple and what to expect. if i was close by, i would definitely meet you in the celestial room and have that robust conversation in quiet tones appropriate for the temple.

  23. MH:

    The first time I attended a classified lecture at Johns Hopkins, I was terrified, because I didn’t know enough to know what was classified and what wasn’t. Sounds like a lot of LDS are in the same position.

  24. I have no problems discussing the temple and most of its ordinances in the right time/place/context. Outright discussion online with the possibility of non-believers heckling/etc I don’t think is right (that’s not happening here, I understand that), but in a private meeting or one to one where it will be treated with respect, even if its with a non-believer I see nothing wrong.

    My SP told me about the endowment ceremony when I was preparing for my mission because there was no temple prep class at the time. All we did was take a walk down his street while he told me about the temple and interviewed me for a recommend.

    On my mission there was an ex-LDS member who was paid by the state church to publish information about the LDS church. He wrote a book called (in English) ‘How I got away from the Mormons’ and he went into great detail about the temple and what happens within. When a priest got wind of one of its parish members learning about the LDS church they contacted headquarters and got a lot of pamphlets and this book to give to the person. Well I came up against this once and so we got the Bishop in to help. He sat there talking about the endowment ceremony in full, because the person already knew about it from reading the book. That’s where I got my opinion about discussing the temple outside of it.

    The big thing too is that with the internet, its all out there anyway. So while its sacred, not secret, if people already know about it, why not discuss it. You have not divulged anything really, someone else did that.

  25. I had an institute teacher who taught a graduate student class once and reported having organized a class trip to the temple where they had a discussion about what each piece of ceremonial clothing represented. I don’t know where within the temple the group was able to do this, and he never got around to taking our class there, although I wished I could have had such an experience.

    I you rent the movie September Dawn, you will see the initiatory ordinances depicted in brief dramatization much like BiV talked about in the OP sans shields, although with through a blurry cheesecloth and with spooky dim lighting. I assumed that there was some attempt at period accuracy, although it was not produced by moviemakers who were favorable to the church.

    I do miss the older version of the initiatory ceremony as it felt like a more complete blessing experience, perhaps the most spiritual moment of my own endowment experience. I understand the changes, but the fact that there is necessity to make the changes is somewhat of a sad reflection. It’s kind of like the feeling you get when your read signs in the lockers of the LA Temple advising you not to leave valuables in the locker. You would hope that in the Temple, signs like that would not be necessary.

    Firetag, I think myself and many others would be more than happy to illuminate your curiosity in a different forum! Feel free to email me.

  26. #24, I was not implying the Masons to be a church or the LDS church not to be true, what I was saying is that, “If the church cannot answer questions of mine prior to serving a mission, how am I expected to answer those questions asked of me”. Also, the coke comment had to do with the “Sunday Mormon”. I haven’t mentioned any connection between the BOM and Democrats, I simply said I don’t rely on Snopes, like the whole world seems to, because of some errors, just like Wikipedia. People tend to get excited when they get their feathers ruffled. I already apologized to that person and I extend it to anyone else.

    All of my family are strict Mormon, I understand the word of wisdom, and all of the rules, etc…but if I chose to drink a coke, instead of 5 Hershey bars, according to my family, I was in the wrong. Eating healthy is the word of wisdom. You can’t justify the meal you just ate that would feed 4 people, followed by 1/4 of a cake, and look me in the eye and tell me I broke the word of wisdom because I chose a coke.

    All in all, my comments were made to simply open your eyes to what you are missing in your personal life. This is brought on because I am drawn to Energy Healing. Since I had to have an MRI, I now see my deceased Grandmother frequently, (who quite often saw her ancestors while working with her genealogy), among other things. Now, besides the fact that I drink Coke, once in a while, “I see dead people”, to quote the movie, so I am looked on as more of an outcast as before. But, why is this?

    To bring it back to topic, why is the symbolism so close to Masonry? Can someone answer this question? Or will we avoid it again?

  27. #24 (“As far as the grips being the same, from what I’ve seen in various “exposés”, they’re not even close.”)

    Masonic grips illustrated in the widely-published exposés in the United States around 1830 include examples that were, in fact, identical to those of the later Mormon endowment rituals, as documented more than amply in my Mormon Parallels: A Bibliographic Source (2008). Much of the attendant language is equally striking in its similarity.

  28. the symbolism is so close to masonry because joseph smith was a mason. he said he was refining masonry to a higher form. if you go to mormonstories.org, john dehlin interviews greg kearney, a master mason and temple mormon. they discuss the history of masonry and mormon temple worship. it is really interesting.

  29. Rigel:

    Thank you for the offer, but I really meant it when I said that I would not want to know. That is not meant with the slightest disrespect. To the contrary, there are things about personal covenants that should not be shared, be those covenants marriages or temple rites.

    Consider me a brother-in-law, but I’ll honor the privacy of your covenants in spirit and fact.

  30. #31, if you’ll notice I responded to your question right after the part you got defensive about. Masonry involves a lot of early Christian practice. Joseph Smith was wrong about the literal origin of Masonic ritual (all Masons back then believed the part about its origin in King Solomon’s Temple), but the truth (I believe) justifies his use of it more than the legend he took as truth. I agree and then some with your unease at the Church’s defensiveness about its relationship with Freemasonry; it should be something the Church is proud of.

    I have as many issues with the modern Church’s interpretation of the Word of Wisdom as you do , but I have even more issue with your repeated stating of the demonstrably false. Claiming that Snopes censors information unrelated to the subject is not a defense of your ridiculous assertion that the Church owns half of whichever cola company, and claiming that Snopes is “the new Book of Mormon” after you’ve charged it as a Democratic Party puff piece is making a connection between the Book of Mormon and the Democrats. This isn’t defensiveness or thin skin; it’s a desire to see honest debate be, well, honest.

    #32, I haven’t seen said exposés and I can’t really go into too much detail without breaking an obligation I have taken and another I hope to take fairly soon, but I can honestly say that among the grips I’ve seen in passing on the Internet and the ones I’ve taken in my own lodge, only one even bears a passing similarity. There may be some similarity in the Royal Arch degrees, but I haven’t seen those (and neither did Joseph Smith).

  31. This one for old-timers–Every now and then I tell my wife that I am going to get a “Pale Ale” (beer) t-shirt to wear. Boy, does she get mad. I bring it up with her every so often, just to see her nostrils flare. Never fails.

    Awesome! Seriously, I wonder how many people know what you’re referring to. I admit to not being an “old-timer” but I got it anyway.

  32. #36 {“#32, I haven’t seen said exposés and I can’t really go into too much detail without breaking an obligation I have taken and another I hope to take fairly soon, but I can honestly say that among the grips I’ve seen in passing on the Internet and the ones I’ve taken in my own lodge, only one even bears a passing similarity. There may be some similarity in the Royal Arch degrees, but I haven’t seen those (and neither did Joseph Smith).”}

    In deference to people’s obligations that you mention, I will not insert early nineteenth-century illustrations, here, of the very specific Masonic grips in question (or various other gestures and texts), but anyone who will glance even briefly at the rabidly-published antimasonic almanacs of the Northeastern United States from the late 1820s-early 1830s will recognize numerous elements that were identical to those in the later Mormon temple liturgy. To imagine that Joseph Smith would not have seen these things would be like supposing that kids in the 1990s had never seen a picture of a space ship. Such a stance incurs a burden of proof not incumbent upon those who own original editions of these pamphlets, and who have made every effort to make them available to Latter-day Saints who care to see them, for decades.

  33. I did not mean that Joseph Smith wasn’t familiar with the Royal Arch degrees, just that he had no participation in them. I apologize for the lack of clarity.

  34. BiV,thanks for this,and I’d love to chat,but I wouldn’t know what to say as i understand next to nothing about my temple experience.It has always seemed to me,and this might be helpful to those thinking of going but spooked by this thread,that i covenant to nothing more than i did at baptism,so other than that it just seems to be an elaboration of ceremony.You can go all Nibley about it,but that’s like saying all things point to God,which they do if that’s what you’re looking for.Other than that,I’m none the wiser,but i like to be on the right side of obedience,and I like the idea of families being together for eternity,although i have no doubt that there are plenty of people more able to live in a celestial manner than we who have not had the opportunity or inclination for making these covenants.But it would be good to talk,because I hate feeling that I have been missing something for all these years.Whenever i have broached these conversations,it quickly becomes clear to me that no-one seems to really know a lot more than me,but they often think they do.They just don’t seem to me to be asking the same questions.So,headaches all around,and I’ve stopped asking.

    But as much as i feel it would help to talk more,I can’t help but be convinced by some of the comments here that we can’t be relied upon as human beings to have this conversation in a sacred manner,and I do accept this stuff as sacred.So now ,i can’t even comfort myself with the fantasy that we could actually have an edifying conversation around this.But I liked your post BiV,and maybe you’re different.And reading this,maybe I’m too proud.I certainly ask too many questions.

    ‘Just keep swimming…’

  35. I suppose I have a different view of the temple ordinances. I see them as an open-ended experience; a chance to actually develop your own ideas about something that may or may not jive with someone else’s view (and that doesn’t have to, for that matter). They also provide a chance to get personal revelation about things, or at least try to do so. In that way they’re fundamentally different than any other experience in the Church; the closest we can come on a regular basis to having God himself teach us. And, as pupils, we can experience the same kind of spiritual growth that Joseph Smith went through as he learned about personal revelation. That, to me, is really the point of temple worship. I think it’s fine to discuss different aspects of the temple ceremonies, but for the most part I really do believe it’s all about developing your own understanding, and through that understanding you develop a relationship with God.

  36. There is a time and place for these kinda of questions, in the question and answer session when your Stake does a Stake Temple day with a chapel session. That is when it is appropriate to ask all these questions. My Husband worked in the Temple before we met and while we were dating, I know that at least my Stake encourages those who are able to go to the Temple to ask your questions then.
    The reason that most people chose not to talk about anything about the Temple outside of the Temple is because they would rather side on caution than saying too much.
    I think as far as the Temple ceremony to be similar to the Masonic ceremony we have to remember that we are not a “New” religion we are simply a restoration of things that use to be here on Earth but may have been lost or changed due to the priesthood being taken from the Earth. I don’t know much about the Masons however it would not surprises me that this ancient ceremony that has been passed down for hundreds of year and no one is completely sure of its origins anymore.
    I love the Temple and I know that I will not completely “get it”, however I love the symbolism and what it could stand for. Some things are better left as mystery’s for me.

  37. Temple ceremonies are like Freemasonry in another regard… everyone knows what goes on in there, but people who have been there are not allowed to discuss it!!!

    My problem with the temple is that you’ve no idea what’s going to happen until you go there… That freaks many people out.

  38. I have been an ordinance worker and was performing the initiatories during the change. While I am not comfortable discussing them over the internet I’d be willing to talk on the phone. (520) 203-2328 I am a historian and familiar with many issues of original Mormon feminism, but I am sadly a Man and so perhaps not exactly what you were seeking. I too would love to sit in the solemn assembly hall with Eliza R Snow and Emmeline B Wells and really discuss it.

  39. I stumbled across your blog and wondered if you might answer a few questions for me, or help me better understand Mormonism. My wife is LDS, but I do not like to ask her these questions so as to avoid contention in the marriage. I have studied Mormonism for many years, and have tried to avoid “anti-Mormon” sources, sticking with official sources only. My questions revolve around the Mormon vision for the future of the world. Of course, with Mitt Romney leading the pack for the GOP nomination, I want to understand how his religious views may influence his Presidency, if he is elected.

    I understand many LDS (at least in my wife’s Wards and Stakes over the years) truly believe in “The Whitehorse Prophecy”. Many believe an LDS leader will ride in on the proverbial White Horse to save the Constitution. I have heard many (in Utah and Arizona) insist that Mitt Romney or Jon Huntsman are the fulfillment of that prophecy.I understand that in the Initiatory ceremony in Mormon temples, Mormons are “anointed to become Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses unto the most high God, to rule and reign in the House of Israel forever.”This “House of Israel” is another name for the Kingdom of God on Earth? And don’t Mormons believe their Church is not only the one and only true and living Church on the face of the earth, but that the Church authority will become the POLITICAL authority?Your Bible Dictionary (from LDS.org) reads:”The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on the earth, but is at the present limited to an ecclesiastical kingdom. During the millennial era, the kingdom of God will be both political and ecclesiastical (see Dan. 7: 18, 22, 27; Rev. 11: 15; JST Rev. 12: 1-3, 7; D&C 65), and will have worldwide jurisdiction in political realms when the Lord has made “a full end of all nations” (D&C 87: 6).”So, if I understand this, you believe the Mormon Church will take over the world, and Temple-worthy Mormons will “rule and reign” as Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses over everybody else, especially since there will be no more “nations”? And you believe that all this stuff might happen any day? (It is close, “even at the doors”).Furthermore, Doctrine and Covenants 87:6 suggests this “end to all nations” will be accomplished through war:”And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed…shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations;”Then Doctrine and Covenants 1:14 suggests those who refuse to be ruled by this Mormon World Government will be eliminated:”…the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;”I must confess to being quite bothered by this vision of the near future. It is even bothersome to think of this being the long-term future. It seems intolerant, totalitarian, imperialistic, and fascist.Is this truly what Mormons believe? And more importantly, in light of the imperialist, fascist, totalitarian regimes in Nazi Germany, Japan, Italy, and others over the years, aren’t Mormons themselves bothered by this vision of the future? Do you honestly support this? Do you have reservations about such a worldview? Do you wonder how it might feel to be a non-believer who can expect to be “cut off from among the people”?

    Help me understand. I have a hard time reconciling this horrible vision of the (near) future with the appearance of kindness I see Mormons display.

    1. Daniel,

      I hope that you’ll forgive a much belated response to what seems like genuine inquiries on your part concerning the temple.

      First of all, the “questions” you don’t ask your wife to avoid contention in your marriage sounds like you’re not respecting the sacred nature of what she has previously covenanted not to talk about. I’m sure this probably puts her in an awkward position considering she’d like you to understand more about the church, but would have you respect the sacred things that cannot be disclosed to you.

      Secondly, it seems like you’ve jumped farther ahead in your studies of the church without starting at the very beginning with the first principles of the gospel. I promise you that all all your questions can be answered if you have a sincere desire to start at the beginning. Your studies have no doubt been like a huge puzzle with the intention and frustration of attempting to fit it all together at once. These spiritual matters, especially those  concerning the temple, cannot be understood without the Holy Ghost and the requisite preparation. The fact that you’ve paraded verbatim speech from temple rituals on the internet is inappropriate. Furthermore, it leads me to believe that you’re not looking for answers in the right place. It’s no wonder that you don’t understand them because you don’t understand the process of receiving revelation.

      Lastly, I would encourage you to develop a relationship with the Savior. If you truly have a desire to learn about Him and his gospel, you won’t refuse to start at the beginning. In doing so, you’ll save yourself and your marriage.

    2. Daniel I am not sure if you will see this, but I wanted to put my two cents in.

      First thing you have to remember, during the
      millennial era, Christ will personally reign on the Earth. There is no one else capable of just rule. He created the Earth, and he will come back to claim his throne. Also, if Christ were to appear before you during this rule and tell you what he expected of you himself, I am pretty sure most God fearing men and women, regardless of current religious (christian) affiliation wouldn’t have much difficulty following him. That said, if you don’t believe as we do, then I am sure you don’t believe that will happen and you really shouldn’t worry about it too much. If you DO believe that is how it will play out, then perhaps you should do a little soul searching.  If you cannot follow the rules of God here on Earth when Christ is the king, you will not be able to live in the presence of God for Eternity..

    3. Daniel,


      I hope you have the
      opportunity to read this reply.  I’ve
      been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of latter days saints all my
      life and have never been taught the things you said we believe will happen in
      the end.  And to reply to your remark
      about “I have studied Mormonism for many years, and have tried to avoid “anti-Mormon
      “sources sticking with official sources only.” I must say that when you quoted
      sacred words from Ordnances we do in the Temple tells me for one that you have not avoided
      anti-Mormon sources.  The scriptures you
      listed are scriptures that would make sense to you if you started out by
      reading the Book of Mormon with a sincere heart to really want to know the
      truth about our faith & beliefs.  Any
      information you search for on the internet will give you only anti-Mormon
      information, unless you go to: http://www.lds.org or
      http://www.mormon.org  these 2 sites can and will answer your
      questions and if not it will give you information as to where you can go or
      contact that will answer any and all of your questions.  I can promise you this.  As for the fear of asking your wife the
      questions you have is sad to me because she would be filled with joy if you
      asked her about her beliefs and it would bring more strength and happiness to your
      marriage not contention because contention is of the devil not of God.  Our faith is not just about God and our Savior
      Jesus Christ but it’s also about the importance of Family!!

      Please listen to
      the advice PAC said to you because it’s the truth.  In ending this I’d like to share something
      personal with you.  I finally found and
      married my “Soul Mate” only because my many prayers were answered.  We were only married for 11 months when I
      found him on our couch when I got up to get ready for work passed away.  He died in his sleep.  This has been the worst and hardest thing I’ve
      ever been through and am still going through considering its only been 4 months
      since his death,  but because of what I
      know to be true in our beliefs, my unwavering faith, and the support of both
      families(his & mine) and the people in my ward I’m doing ok.  Yes I miss him everyday, and its been very
      hard not having him around as we were together all the time & were best friends but I know we will
      be reunited and until then I live my life one day at a time doing my best to be
      the person I know my Savior would want me to be.  If you’d really search & ponder the REAL
      truth about what The church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints beliefs are it
      will change your life and bring you a happiness & peace you never knew
      existed, and it will bring you closer to your wife and make your marriage a strong
      one that will last forever.

      Good luck in your
      search Daniel.


  40. I just came upon this post, searching for insight to the initiatory ordinance. In my search, I came upon another site that you – the original poster – may be interested in. The author is a faithful LDS who does not share what he covenanted not to share. I’ve not read enough to know if he answers your questions, but it might be worth your perusal.

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