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Friday, May 05, 2006

Let's Teach More About the Content of the Temple to Prepare Our Members

Just got a note from someone saying that one of the reasons his wife left the Church was that she was bothered by the expectation to make sacred covenants in the Endowment ceremony that she had not had time to think about. She felt their presentation was rapid fire and in an intimidating setting. That pains me. Out here, when I've taught temple preparation classes, I've discussed the basic nature of the major covenants of the Endowment to make sure people are prepared to make and keep them. Isn't that what everyone does? Obviously not clearly enough.

Preparing people for the Temple must mean preparing them to make and accept the covenants to follow Christ and seek to build up the kingdom of God. And people better know about those funny garments as well! Come on, let's don't let people come back from the Temple all surprised about everything. The better prepared they are, the more profound their first experience will be. It is a different place, a step back into an ancient world based on covenants and sacred symbols, and people need to be prepared. Otherwise it will just seem corny or overwhelming or boring, when in reality it is magnificent.

And it wouldn't hurt a bit to have people read some non-LDS literature as part of their preparation. Mircea Eliade's The Sacred and the Profane, for example, is a nice place to start.

3 comments:

Ben S. said...

Amen. There are some good ways to teach about the contents of temple covenants. I don't find them terribly different than the baptismal covenants, just more explicit.

There are also three good GA quotes. (Can't go wrong with them.)

President Hinckley-

"the covenants of the temple [are] Sacrifice, the willingness to sacrifice for this the Lord’s work—and inherent in that law of sacrifice is the very essence of the Atonement, the ultimate sacrifice made by the Son of God in behalf of each of us. Consecration, which is associated with it, a willingness to give everything, if need be, to help in the on-rolling of this great work. And a covenant of love and loyalty one to another in the bonds of marriage, fidelity, chastity, morality." -Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997 ): 147.


Elder James E. Talmage-

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…. In every detail the endowment ceremony contributes to covenants of morality of life, consecration of person to high ideals, devotion to truth, patriotism to nation, and allegiance to God. -Elder Talmage, The House of the Lord, 100. Also quoted by Elder Packer in The Holy Temple, 163.


President Benson-

We covenant to live the law of consecration. This law is that we consecrate our time, talents, strength, property, and money for the upbuilding of the kingdom of God on this earth and the establishment of Zion. Until one abides by the laws of obedience, sacrifice, the gospel, and chastity, he cannot abide the law of consecration, which is the law pertaining to the celestial kingdom. -Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988): 121.)

Anonymous said...

I received my endowments over 20 years ago. The temple prep class was okay, but did not prepare me for the initiatory.

However, I was also ill-prepared by the temple-staff. There was a meeting for those receiving their own endowments with the temple presidency, but nothing about initiatory was described.

Perhaps my escorts were going to fill me in in the changing room. I never found out.

My escorts left me alone for a minute in the changing room, and an over-zealous temple-worker, thought I was goofing off, and literally grabbed me by the arm and shoulder and physically forced me, literally man-handled me, into the initiatory line. I was TOTALLY unprepared for that. If I had not had a testimony, I would have put my street clothes back on, left the temple, and gone totally inactive.

To this day, I don't know if I got my own initiatory or did one for a deceased person.

At the time, I was trying to be meek and submissive and do what I was told, but afterwards, when I realized what a total snafu it was, it turned into something of a psychological trauma.

People who go through the temple the first time for their own initiatory and endowments should not be treated like cattle on an assembly line. Temple staff need to keep a close eye on those there for the first time, and be sure that things are explained prior.

Jeff said...

Jeff L.,

I agree with you. We need to prepare people better for this experience. I recently posted an article about this issue here, http://mormon-gnostics.blogspot.com/2006/05/misunderstood-lds-temple.html

I see it as more than a forewarning issue, but also as a scripture study issue. There is plenty in the scriptures that can be gone over to make the Temple experience seem if not normal to someone, at least very Biblical. I'm not just talking about the D&C, I'm suggesting we crack open Exodus and Leviticus and read the meat of the older rites. The Priests in the Tabernacle went through a very clear initiatory experience that would have prepared someone like the author of the previous anonymous comment very well for the rite.