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Wednesday, November 09, 2005 

No Temple for Me, Thanks, Though

I hate to put it like this, but I don't trust the temple.

I know... I should. The temple's never led me astray or done anything but good for me, but I'm still wary of it.

Why? Two main reasons.

1-When I was in college, I went abroad for a few months and lived right next to a temple in another country. Before I went, I wanted to take out my endowment. My bishop told me "no." I'd been studying, going to temple prep and I thought I was ready... I certainly wanted it badly. Instead, my bishop threw a past sin in my face (which I thought I was supposed to have been forgiven of) and told me that if I messed up like that after the temple, then I'd really be in a tough spot. So, the whole 3 months I lived a stone's throw from the temple, while the other two students I was there with went to the temple, I was by myself, but I wanted to be in there and I couldn't be.

2-People talk about being shocked and having their faith shaken by going to the temple. What??? That's crazy. Isn't it supposed to go along with all of the other lessons we've learned over and over and over again since we were able to sing the Sunbeam song? Isn't it? I've been tempted to look up the temple ceremony online, but I never have, out of respect. Still... I'm curious... why do so many people react that way?

I've had good temple experiences, too, though. I remember being so happy when I was 7 and my family went together to be sealed. Doing baptisms was always a positive time, although, I must admit that I now find the process of being baptized for the dead and doing other work for the dead to be completely and utterly illogical (how can you possibly do the work for every Australian aborigine, Laotian farmer or ancient Egyptian slave of whom there were no written records?).

At this point, it's all moot, because my "less-activeness" prevents me from even getting close to that path. Even if it didn't, I'm still not sure I'd want to go anymore.

Kaycee, with respect to #2, a lot of people are taken aback by the Temple Endowment because it is very symbolic in nature when the rest of what happens in an LDS Church is almost entirely devoid of symbols, the Sacrament being the obvious notable exception. So it is something of a "shock" because you go from almost no symbolism to loads of obscure symbolism. It also doesnt help any that the "Temple Prep" class does nothing at all to help explain any of the obscure symbolism whatsoever. There isnt anything doctrinal or theological in the temple that is particularly novel or wierd, its the sheer volume of symbolism that is overwhelming to people at first.

" I've been tempted to look up the temple ceremony online, but I never have, out of respect. "

Would that more people had your sense of respect.

I think most people have a problem because it's formal ritual, and they've been led by experience to think that we don't do any of that.

Truman Madsen commented on this. He "had a built-in hostility to ritual and to symbolism. I was taught by people both in and out of the Church -with good intention, I have no doubt- that we don't believe in pagan ceremony; we don't believe in all these procedures and routines; that's what they did in the ancient apostate church: we've outgrown all that. Well, that in effect is throwing out the baby with the bath water." The Radiant Life (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994): chapter 10.

I went to the temple once for my wedding and never went back. It was *the* defining moment for my journey out of Mormonism.

I realize it is symbolic, but it's interesting that the things that were most troubling and yes, WEIRD, were taken out of the ceremony in 1990 and 2005. I guess they were scaring away too many members, such as myself.

Even with those troubling aspects taken out, there is still plenty more weirdness and troubling things left in. I'll pass.

You know me and that I'm normal (mostly =). I was NOT weirded out by anything.

I was upset when I went to the temple for the first time too. For one thing, women hold the priesthood and officiate in the washings and annointings. It freaked me out when a woman put her hands on my head to bless me!

I also was upset by the bizarre symbolism. It is completely different from every other aspect of mormonism. I left that day wondering if the church was still true.

That was 12 years ago, the night before I got married. I've been active for all the years since, but recently I've learned too much about the church and I want nothing to do with it anymore. I never want to go to the temple again (and I never want a man to determine my worthiness again!)

Learned too much, eh? I don't think there is such a thing, though you make it sound so ominous ;)

There's certainly no shortage of good resources

I was weirded out. to be honest, i didn't go back for years, despite being both 'active' and 'worthy'.

causation/correlation:

did your bishop's refusing to let you go, and your not experiencing the temple, contribute to your losing/never developing faith/going inactive--however you want to characterize the process?

or, was he inspired that you would become inactive/non-mormon and thus didn't want you bearing the weight of broken covenants?

or, neither?

i still cannot interpret very many things in the temple. but there are aspects which i feel are 100% from God. i don't think the entire package is though. not yet.

Wow. I haven't frequented this site for very long but this very topic is exactly what I expected to see. And I don't mean that in a negative way at all. The temple was a complete about face from everyday worship when I started going. Now the temple and its teachings constitute one of the best spiritual proofs to me that the gospel and church are true.

I'm biased, I know. I study ancient history and Greek and Hebrew and all that stuff which obviously gives me a predisposition to be attracted to it. But I have a hard time thinking that most of the people uncomfortable with the temple wouldn't have an improved view of it with a greater understanding of its context.

I personally have some hard feelings towards the church that I haven't resolved yet because I had a similar experience to what several of you have described. The night before I took out my endowments my employer scared the hell out of my by telling me stories about how his friend went into the temple a strong member and came out raving about how all Mormons were closet gays. With some last minute damage control from the woman who later became my mother-in-law I had a fine experience. But I'm sick to death of the lack of real preparation for those going in for the first time. I'm of the opinion that so much can be said about the temple and its proceedings to prepare people before going through for the first time that some people are just too supersticious to talk about. I've personally taken it upon myself to better prepare those I know for the temple because of just how different an experience it is. It is meant to be enriching, not daunting.

I'm floored by what the Bishop said to you. Bishops like that give the church a bad rep! Having just moved back from Utah, and working with many people who were NOT LDS (Surprising to me, but whatever)...I found out some HORRIBLE things that LDS people had done! Now, I know the church is true, but I wish that people wouldn't judge the church (or the Temple), on the imperfect people. UGH, I wish MY Bishop could have had a talk with your Bishop! When I received my endowment, I struggled a bit at first, before making the decision. My current Bishop said that it wasn't time - ok, no big deal. Then, he gets released and the new one tells me "We are starting the Temple prep. classes, let's get you in there!" and I'd literally run down the hall, away from him. But, after some trials, I knew for myself that it was time to go (to the Temple). I knew that I'd get the strength there that I would need to deal with the impending trial. I know this makes no sense whatsoever, I just had to write something as your post struck me.

These are great comments. I know we've discussed your decision to not be active in the church (privately), and I respect you and the choices you've made...but although you were offended by that bishop (who obviously was not a good explainer or perhaps a good people person..) aren't you glad that you did not go? Or do you think things might have ended up differently had you gone?

Carrie Ann -- that's a great question, with the further issue that if it would have made a difference, the knowledge that it would have made a difference should make a difference too.

I am not a Mormon, and therefore, many will just discount my comments out of hand. I was surprised to see the comment about the secrecy of the Masons closely aligned with the secrecy of Mormonism. I am (or was) a Mason.
I am a born-again Christian, and teach an adult class in my Baptist Church.
We have freqently discussed the use and purpose of liturgy in worship, and many don't like it as it can become so familiar that it loses all meaning. Others like the security in knowing how to perform in the worship setting, so singing the same songs, repeating the Lord's Prayer or the Doxology is comforting to them.
Scripture teaches me several things:
1. That God has endowed me with a Holy Spirit that will guide me in all things. He is not always as clear in His guidance as I would like, but He is there, and often when I have missed His guidance, it was because I was not listening or paying attention.
2. That my salvation is secure, complete and accomplished thru the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Nothing else is needed. If we begin to add other things to the "prerequisits for salvation," then we take away from the act of Christ, and we limit His abiltity to save us.
3. That I continue to sin. Being human, I cannot do otherwise. I am incomplete, polluted with things like selfishness, lust, greed, and a host of other things I have to fight against every day. But Scripture again tells me that these can be overcome, and that thru Jesus's atoning act, all my sins have been, and will be forgiven.

So, I said all that to say this: If a priest, or temple official, or pastor or anyone else tells you because you have sinned you are outside and cannot come in, you should remain outside that particular group. Christ's ministry included prostitutes, tax collectors, sinners of all sorts, and one of the most influencial of all New Testament writers, Paul said, " the good I know to do, I do not, and that I know not to do, that I do." If Paul could not be perfect, what makes us think we can be, this side of the grave?

Thanks for listening.

John

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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