You may have heard that the LDS Temple ceremony changed to (1) provide an explanation of five temple covenants before people agree to continue, (2) show pictures of Jesus, (3) eliminate the roles of the witness couple, (4) change it so that certain elements are only shown on screen, not performed during the ceremony, until the end (which I assumed shortened the ceremony but have heard that it is actually 13 minutes longer now), (5) tweak some language (mostly immaterial except potentially something about laughter …), (6) provide different images during the presentation (including Adam and Eve dressed in temple clothing, which is new), and (7) remove the “who is dead” language from ordinances being performed vicariously for the dead. The Tribune article–which, sorry Trib, I usually love you but that piece reads more like a puff piece than journalism–also says the changes increase gender equity in the temple ceremony, but I have yet to hear anything that supports that conclusion.
If you’re keeping track, this is the third change that Nelson has implemented during his reign. The first (2019) was the most significant revision to the temple ceremony that I’ve seen in my lifetime (I am too young to have experienced pre-1990 temple). It was one I initially applauded as having resolved much of the sexism I had experienced in the temple till that point–and most of the articles from the time period likewise applauded it–but after going a few more times and listening more carefully I realized it just hid the sexism better: taking out an obligation for women to “hearken” in the endowment, but adding “preside” into the sealing; replacing the language stating that women would be queens and priestesses to their husbands with language stating that women would be queens and priestesses in the new and everlasting covenant which, umm, is plural marriage, so it says the same sexist thing in more opaque language. Color me not impressed. (Hey 2019 bloggers, update your posts, THE TEMPLE IS STILL SEXIST.)
The second set of changes was in 2020 but I am not clear on what those changes were. My understanding is they were designed to minimize contact during Covid but I’ve not seen explanations or attended.
And most recently, the changes from this week. I have no idea what prompted the changes (or why, if Nelson has a direct line to God, he didn’t make these changes in the 2019 overhaul). Some plausible explanations are (1) minimize germ-spread (consistent with the 2020 changes); (2) reduce the number of workers required to run a session; (3) attempt to address issues of informed consent by explaining the covenants prior to beginning (temple prep seems a better option for this, because it would still be really awkward to get up and leave in front of friends and family your first time); and (4) trying to seem more Christian (ok that was snarky, I imagine it is a sincere effort to make Christ more central to the ceremony). I had initially thought some changes were designed to shorten the ceremony to encourage more people to come–if my stake and regional communications are any indication, I think temple attendance is still way down and nowhere near pre-pandemic levels–but apparently that’s not the case as some are reporting it is now 13 minutes longer.
I don’t really have feelings one way or the other about these changes. They seem neutral at best to me. They certainly don’t address my primary concerns with the temple—those concerns being (1) sexism, (2) polygamy, (3) heteroexclusivity, (4) pledging loyalty to the institution of the Church rather than to God, (5) temple recommend & tithing gatekeeping / exclusion mechanisms, (6) vestiges of penalty oaths and non-ancient Masonic practices, (7) genuine confusion about what the temple endowment adds to baptismal covenants (or otherwise what it has to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ), and (8) a complete lack of interest in inheriting kingdoms and principalities and having endless posterity.
Indeed, similar to my post from last week (sorry, I guess it’s week two of downer posts from me), there is little that could be done to the temple ceremony in anything resembling its current iteration that would seem meaningful to me so I honestly just don’t care. (That isn’t stopping me from blogging about them, I guess, but I’m just doing my journalistic duty here!) The fact that I don’t care after spending so many years scrutinizing every single word and motion and symbol in the temple is probably the most significant thing to me about the change.
So I guess what this leaves me with is a series of questions I’ll leave it to our insightful readers to discuss.
- If you are dissatisfied with your temple experience, do these changes move the needle for you? Better or worse? Don’t care?
- If you are happy with your temple experience, do you think these changes are net negative (particularly taking away some of the ritualistic elements which some people actually prefer)?
- What do you think motivated these changes? What do you think their impact will be? Why do you think they were not made in 2019?
- Is there any plausible argument remaining that the temple ceremony is of ancient, unchanging origin? What are the implications of that?
- If you went through the temple for the first time during a different iteration of the endowment, which covenants did you make? Do these changes retroactively apply?
- Are you seeing a greater contingency of non-temple Mormons in your circles? Do you think we should do a better job making space for them?
I went through the temple first in 1988 before my mission and then again when I married in 1991. It was shocking and unexpected for me when I had to promise to obey my husband that I hadn’t yet met, before my mission. I remember looking at my mother feeling shocked and betrayed. My parents have a marriage based on equality and my mother worked for the YWCA at a safe house for battered women and told me all about her job. Promising to obey my husband doesn’t match my values.
Still, I did it and felt pressured and hypocritical. If the temple ceremony has been changed to allow more instruction and consent prior to entering into a covenant that will be a great improvement. I look forward to attending and seeing how they did with that.
I remember the change to hearken from obey. While an improvement it still keeps women one down. I was glad to see it was removed last time I attended. But keeping preside in the sealing ceremony keeps women in the one down position regardless of Elder Soares desire to soften and change the meaning of preside.
The church wants to believe women are equal to men in our faith. However, if the man presides and all final decisions in the church are made by men holding the priesthood, it just isn’t true.
I appreciate President Nelson’s efforts, but I hope this is just a beginning to correcting the church’s misogyny.
I get that even small changes are difficult for members to adjust to. When I attended the temple recently I was asked to witness a sealing. It felt so odd to sit in the same place I remember my dad and father in law sitting at my wedding.
Hopefully these regular changes are getting us all ready to accept the kinds of larger changes necessary for our community to become more Christ like and a Zion community
In my opinion, no amount of Jesus pictures (which I assume would be the Caucasian version) inserted into the presentation, can mask the fact that the Christ the Church claims to follow would have no interest in the opulence of temples or in what takes place there.
1. “If you are dissatisfied with your temple experience, do these changes move the needle for you?”
They are welcome changes, but not likely sufficient to move the needle for me to have a desire to attend again. If they had happened 10 years ago, when I was regularly attending each month, they would have had more of a positive impact. Too much has fallen apart in the interim. I regularly attended for 20-25 years, each time diligently seeking to break through the symbolism to understand things. I finally gave up after first beating myself up for making no progress. The further I dug (and asked many questions of others IN the temple), the more I realized no one else had any better understanding than I did, although opinions abounded.
2. “What do you think motivated these changes?”
The many complaints, comments, feedback received, combined with dwindling attendance and availability of ordinance workers.
3 “Is there any plausible argument remaining that the temple ceremony is of ancient, unchanging origin? ”
I used to be taught that Joseph Smith restored the ancient temple ceremony, but now I hear more of the sentiment that we will keep refining the temple ceremony until we have a beautiful gift to present to the Savior at His return (I cannot cite the source for this line of thought, anyone help here?) so that sounds more like something man has created.
It seems to me that everything leads to the ultimate ordinance: sealing of a couple into the new and everlasting covenant, i.e., polygamy. No longer interested.
I haven’t gone to the temple in years, so I’m not affected by these changes, but I’m extremely skeptical that they’ve resolved the sexism. The church wants women to believe women are equal, but I don’t think “the church” or church leaders believe it or even want to believe it. In fact, I don’t think they particularly care about women at all. They do need their free labor, though, so the sexism gets repackaged every once in awhile to make everyone feel better. (I still have some hope that if you replace “the church” with “Jesus” that Jesus actually does think women are equal, but that’s probably not what Elder Hamilton had in mind)
My understanding of the 2020 changes is that they happened because the director of the new temple movies was arrested for child sexual abuse.
@dot, is that when they switched to the slide show? For some reason I thought that was in 2019.
My thoughts on the 7 changes:
1) No effect. Providing 15 minutes warning on covenants isn’t meaningful. Everyone should know what they are before they go to the temple. They’ve been announced in General Conference. There is no reason for the covenants to be a secret.
2) No effect. Anyone familiar with LDS doctrine should easily equate Jehovah in the endowment with Jesus, so I don’t know what some pictures of Jesus are really going to add. It might look nice visually. I like Jesus, so why not have more of him on screen?
3) Minimal effect. I guess no one has to wonder if they are going to be asked to be the witness couple. Should shave off a minute or two from the endowment. (“A couple will now come to the alter . . .[pause] . . . This couple represents each of you as if you were at the altar . . . “)
4) I don’t really know what this one means. What are the “certain elements”. For anyone who hasn’t been to the temple since COVID, the all the handshakes with everyone in the session have been eliminated (less germ spread is a good thing). A TV was added in my temple so they could show the handshake at the appropriate time. But as this is listed as a new change, I don’t know what it refers to.
5) Are we allowed to laugh now? Is there a decibel limit?
6) No effect. Adam and Eve in temple clothing is about as consequential as learning that the new Adam parts his hair on the other side. If anything, I anticipate this being weird, as it will make Adam and Eve look even more modern (or at least 19th century). I wear a tie at the temple. Is Adam going to be wearing a tie? Flimsy little slippers? No, I suppose Adam would have sprung for a nice pair of white shoes. Or are they just wearing the robes over top their coats of skins? I can’t think of a scenario where this doesn’t look weird.
7) No effect. We all know the people are dead, we’re just leaving three words out, which will make some sentences a little less cumbersome. Maybe this one primarily refers to baptism and confirmation?
In sum, these seem like tiny changes that I suppose are positive-ish (other than A&E’s clothes) but not meaningful. If everything in the temple weren’t so very rigid and formalized, this isn’t the sort of change that you’d even notice. It doesn’t address any significant issue that anyone has with the temple. This just feels like Nelson likes tinkering with the temple, because none of these feel impactful enough to bother changing everything. If these had been included with the changes in 2019 it would have made sense. I don’t see how any of these changes add time to the endowment, let alone 13 minutes! (Please tell me there isn’t a 13 minute Jesus picture slideshow in the middle with the TabCATS oohing in the background.)
Just after the PoX, I gave my bishop my recommend and told him I would let him know when I wanted it back. Still hasn’t happened, and they’ve finally stopped trying to get me to come in for an interview.
The few friends who were even willing to listen to my issues with the temple ceremonies have told me that it’s changed and I would find it much better now. All prior to this week’s changes, and no actual details, of course. Just trust us!
The question none of them have been able to answer for me, though, is what wording of the covenants am I bound by? The version that was being used when I had my personal endowment experience 20+ years ago? The 2019 version? This new one? And, if the meaning doesn’t change just because the words did (the reassurance some GAs gave folks after previous changes), am I bound by the meaning of the obey the law of your husband wording from even earlier?
If you’re automatically updated to the current version, does that mean I have to trust that no future leaders will ever change it to something I am not comfortable with? I’m left with too many questions.
I’m interested to see how they increase Christ’s role in the endowment. I certainly hope it amounts to more than just inserting a correlated still image here or there. I’ve long complained that in the narrative of the endowment, Christ is at best a minor character who does little more than delegate instructions. Satan has more lines, more screen time and a much more consequential role. I always thought that was strange in a church that bears Christ’s name, and holds Him up as the most crucial component of the plan of salvation everywhere except in the temple.
I appreciate the effort at improving informed consent, and making the whole experience somewhat less coercive by explaining the covenants up front. I suppose that’s the best outcome we could hope for, short of Church leaders actually admitting that the previous versions were coercive and manipulative.
These changes may not seem like much, but consider that we are only one generation removed from temple ceremonies that consisted of mock ritual suicide and inappropriate touching. Fingers crossed, we are well on the path toward getting rid of garments once and for all.
So, credit where credit is due, but for many of us, it’s too little too late.
All positive changes. More to be done: The most problematic parts of the endowment presentation are (1) the conceptual metaphor used for “covenant,” and (2) the satanic green fig leaf apron that is worn throughout.
(1) The LDS version of covenant is contractual, obligatory—infantilized into a model of promises. We would do better to align our concept of covenant with Judaism, not Protestantism. In Judaism, the emphasis of covenant is kinship, and the central metaphor is marriage, unity, at-one-ment.
Responsibility is to Covenant as Obedience is to Commandment. Responsibility is not obedience. We do not obey covenant. We obey commandment. Covenant refers to proximity and responsibility. The emphasis of covenant—the higher law—is responsibility for one another. Remember how the Pharisees were perfectly obedient, but widows and orphans were neglected, so Jesus condemned them (the Pharisees operated by commandment, not covenant). Taken further, Cain’s infamous allegorical response “Am I my brother’s keeper?” identifies the breaking of the covenant with refusing responsibility of one another. That said, the proper “covenants” of the Gospel of Jesus Christ are as follows:
Law of Sabbath
Law of Tithe
Law of Fast
Law of Chastity
Law of Consecration
Concepts such as “Law of Obedience” and “Law of the Gospel” are nonsensical, incongruent. Sabbath, Tithing, Fasting, Chastity, and Consecration, are the fundamental “kinship” and “responsibility” laden in the conceptual metaphor for covenant.
(2) To wear the fig leaf throughout the presentation of the endowment is to be marked by, and obedient to, satan, who gives it to us. There is no way to get around this. All of this becomes glaringly clear if we understand the symbolism of the fig tree, fig fruit, and fig leaf. Why does Jesus curse it before entering Jerusalem?
Do leaders understand the symbolism of the fig tree/leaf/fruit?
To remedy: in the endowment presentation, as we move to a higher sphere—the fig leaf apron would be removed, as if traded for a body of flesh (mortality). As the fleshly body puts on the linen garment, the idea is that we bring celestial lifestyle to the terrestrial earth to “restore Creation” (for context, see “Tikkun olam”). To sum up, (1) our LDS concept for covenant is limited, incomplete, arguably misleading, and (2) to carry satan’s symbol right into the celestial room is an abomination.
And one more thing: Exchanging money transaction in the temple (renting clothes) is a mockery and a contamination of the sacred space, full stop.
Keep the comments and analysis flowing, please. I have not attended in three years and will surrender my recommend after a certain wedding I am waiting for.
I went through in 1971, so I did the “obey” covenant. But, since I picked a husband that would not ask me to obey him if I didn’t agree, I wasn’t too worried with that. To tell you the truth, I was more bothered by other things then . One was not having a direct relationship to God, but only knowing him through my husband. Another was the mocking of the Catholic priest. Then there was the whole concept of “signs and tokens.” Or put another way, secret signals and passwords. Heaven in not like an armed camp where we need secret passwords to get in. Don’t we have a Father who knows us as individuals? And will know our righteousness level just by knowing us better than we know ourselves. And what did all of *that* have to do with a carpenter from Nazareth? And why are we promising to give everything to the institutional church and not to God? And promise not to tell this secret handshake or forfeit my life….um, shades of the Gadianton Robbers and weren’t they the bad guys? And mimicking slitting my throat and disemboweling myself, this is worse than creepy.
And because I am a MORO (Mormon of Record Only, less Mormon even than a PIMO) I just don’t care about small changes to the temple ceremony. Whatever they do is too little too late and probably misses the whole point anyway, sort of like closing the barn window after the animals all walk out the open door.
I spent years agonizing over how the God depicted in the Mormon temple ceremony could possibly love his daughters when he treated them, well not like daughters at all more like a daughter in law he disliked and expected to divorce his son any day. I tried to ask and got told my being so bold as to ask was a bad attitude and would take me straight to hell. I tried to understand and all I got were platitudes at best and treated like I was evil at worst. Them it just got changed and we weren’t supposed to even talk about it or ask why.
Do I care if the Grinch is green or blue? When it is all made up anyway, it makes no difference to reality. So, no. I don’t care.
I had a friend in 1990 who promised me everything had been fixed and I HAD to give it another chance. I did and of course, not enough was changed. Not enough has been changed still two fixes later.
My last trip to the temple was to see my daughter married last year and I’ll not be back unless something miraculous happens.
I went through for the first time in 1993 and was completely unprepared even though I was a BYU student and had taken temple prep classes. My dad also gave me a completely inadequate overview of the temple the morning of. I literally didn’t sleep the 24 hours afterwards wondering what I had done but -alas – my whole family had been doing this for generations and I thought myself unworthy for questioning. 30 years later I wish I had been emotionally mature enough to realize I was ceding decision-making authority to others. I have to remind myself constantly to breathe and be kind to myself.
I still discover weird stuff about the temple now and then. Like just last year I somehow discovered the signs were the first half of the penalties which hadn’t been completely removed. Here I had spent years trying to decipher the symbolism behind the signs (cup, squares, etc) only to find out they are vestigial remnants of the penalties. One time I asked a temple presidency member and his wife – in the temple – about the penalties and was curtly told I shouldn’t be asking.
Informed consent – ugh. Listing the 5 covenants made while you’re sitting down with your family right before a wedding or mission is not informed consent. It’s still manipulative and coercive; these changes feel more like a half hearted concession to advocates for change. “See, we listen to feedback!”
On the tragically funny theme, when I was a 19 year old virgin on my mission, not having been around girls for a long time, I found the endowment movie strangely erotic. Seeing Eve walk around naked and with bare shoulders I’m pretty sure caused scores of innocent young men and missionaries to violate the law of chastity through “self abuse” imagining mother Eve. True story, my MTC district compared which Eves were hotter and how many wet dreams they caused. At least the slide show will send fewer missionaries confessing to their mission presidents.
The Mormon temple ceremony is still awesome, even with the changes. .
@Elisa. Sorry! You’re right–I was conflating the switch to the slide show in 2019 with the (presumed) covid changes in 2020. So the “new” movies came out in 2013 and were used until January 2019. In January 2019, a recording came out where Sterling Van Wagenen, the director of those movies, confessed to having molested a teenage boy in 1993 (he was disfellowshipped back then for 2 years). The church immediately switched to the slide show, and then in April 2019, Van Wagenen was charged with sexual abuse of another child.
But now I’m wondering, didn’t the big changes where the sexism was “resolved” happen with the 2013 movies?
@dot, IIRC were made to the actual text in the 2013 version but people generally liked Eve’s part in those movies as she seems a more active participant. (I remember being super bummed that they finally made a “change” but didn’t bother addressing sexism.)
The textual changes were made in 2019 in connection with the slides. I do think 2020 was just reducing physical contact for Covid. But I haven’t been since pre-Covid so I don’t know.
You lost me at 13 minutes longer Elisa. 🙂 That’s an automatic net negative for me.
I may find myself in the temple again one day for a wedding. Then again I may not. But I hope to never endure another endowment session.
Change it all they want. I still do not believe in a God of tokens and signs. Because what Anna said.
@Toad, I second you on finding the temple movie erotic as a missionary. I’ve had the thought, “If they really want to increase temple attendance, they should just go full monty with the video. That would certainly give an incentive for lots of males to go to the temple more often.” 🙂
I have been recently. There is less standing up and sitting down and rearranging the clothing (a good thing for those with physical disabilities). You don’t physically touch anyone until you cross the veil (probably a covid change).
The 2019 slide show was gone and no movie replaced it. Honestly, I missed the richness of the other ceremony and the old movies. It felt very simple and empty. As I have been thinking more about Heavenly Mother, I longed to see Her included in the ceremony.
@Elisa—ok wow, I’m really having an off day! Thanks for a great post, as usual. 🙂
Well, I completely missed the Wagenen scandal and the switch from the movies to slides. My last trip to the temple was probably in 2017ish. There aren’t any changes that would make me want to go again.
I shared in a prior post how I was rushed into the temple by a bullying bishop and an anxious mom. I was not looking forward to going, and was horrified by the idea of having to wear garments afterward. It was the wrong time for me, but I capitulated.
My apologies in advance, but this is a personal post and in that regard too long and a little selfish.
I grew up outside the Mormon trail and was exposed to what was at that time called anti-Mormon literature detailing the temple ceremony. I asked my bishop about some of the specifics of the initiatory ceremony based on what I had read and he outright misrepresented the ordinance, and then shamed me for questioning such a sacred thing. I asked my parents the same questions and they gave me awkward and concerned glances and told me it wasn’t appropriate to talk about the temple outside the temple–it was sacred, not secret.
The day I went, I learned the initiatory ceremony was exactly as describe in the book I read. My bishop’s credibility sank. It was not a comfortable experience. I stood there in shock thinking, “The book was dead right. My bishop lied and made me feel like I was wrong to ask questions. I wonder what else in the book is dead on?” This was the mid 1980’s and the endowment ceremony was not only live where I attended, but we moved from room to room. It seems like it took so long, two hours plus. At one point I felt a little faint, I was dehydrated and my head pounded. The ceremony at that time still included the violent death consequence hand motions for disclosing the signs and tokens–that rocked me. I turned to my dad at one point and whispered, “They aren’t serious are they?” He looked at me and shrugged! In my mind I was thinking how can you not know?!? I concluded it had to be allegorical.
Another thing really bothered me that day: During my senior year of high school I was part of a leadership group that was selected to attend a national conference. The Freemasons from our community sponsored us. My hometown has a large Masonic Lodge and many men in the community were active in Freemasonry at that time. After, the Masons invited us to the lodge to present. We sat on a back bench while they went through their entire ceremony, which included green aprons and robes, an alter, and had signs and symbols. I didn’t think anything about it (other than it was new and perplexing to me). But now, a couple of years following my experience at the Masonic lodge, as I pondered my first time in the temple earlier that day, the Masons’ ritual hit me like a thunderclap. Some of the similarities were unmistakable. I wanted to ask about it but realized my parents were probably not equipped to talk about it, and my bishop…he had effectively disqualified himself as someone I couldn’t trust.
(I’ll add that a half dozen years later, my wife cried on her endowment day prior to our wedding, so upset I knew her new name but she couldn’t know mine–along with all of the other things. For both of us, attending the temple was not something we ever enjoyed or made a priority.)
I haven’t been to the temple for over a decade. After reading Elisa’s OP, I realized just how far from the temple I am, and always have been. I haven’t thought about the specifics of the temple for years, and as I read about the changes, I realize they don’t mean anything to me. The temple has never been the place in which I found peace or inspiration. I “get” the temple, and honestly have to say I am confused when I hear some members talk about how incomprehensible the temple is, and that incomprehensibility is what makes it so wonderful, always something new to learn. My experience was antithetical to that sentiment by comparison. It was not a part of my religious ritual, and my wife and I don’t feel like we have missed out on anything by not attending.
I also realized after reading this blog post that I haven’t talked to any Millennials or Gen Zers about their temple experiences, and I wonder how these modifications have changed the temple experience for them. For me, it didn’t matter how much the ceremony wording changed over the years, my first experience always played through my mind when I went to the temple. That first experience is seared on my memory.
Regarding the 7 changes Elisa outlines in her first paragraph, my reactions are:
1) informed consent–it’s about time, and while I agree that the social pressure is still huge and problematic, the covenants are also in the CHI now, I’ve heard anyway, which should make them more clearly discussed in temple prep classes, etc.
2) I’m assuming these Jesus pics are all going to be Nordic Tinder Jesus, but it’s still an improvement over Supercuts Adam
3 & 4) no witness couple is fine I guess, although the participatory elements (including the other ones eliminated) will probably make it more likely people will snooze through the whole thing, esp with 13 extra minutes of REM cycle
5) ditching the injunction on loud laughter is good since absolutely no one pays attention to it anyway
6) I’m not sure which vestiges are in and which are out; personally, I’m not bothered by the Masonic roots, but I don’t think it’s great that church leaders have believed that the Masonic stuff was actually from the time of Solomon, or the other elements where we seem to be cosplaying ancient Israel which is a flavor of cultural appropriation that some take far too seriously
7) Who cares?
As to making it less sexist, the only thing I heard is that the veil instructions are now shown with a black female temple worker helping a white female patron, so is that really what we are calling “less sexism” now, in a ceremony that is based on polygamy? I know there are those who don’t believe it is, but personally I think they are fooling themselves. Our church leaders clearly intend that or they would not refer to the new & everlasting covenant.
I still think that most Mormons secretly dislike going to the temple. I know some do like it, find it peaceful & spiritual–bully for them!–but a whole lot of the ones who claim to either like it or that they feel like they should go more often secretly dislike it and just don’t want to admit it to others (due to social pressure) or themselves (due to thinking they aren’t good people for not liking it).
The last few years of changes have not moved the needle at all for me because of the polygamous (and therefore sexist) undertones throughout the entire thing that make it rotten to the core for me. It just feels like we are being gaslit with these changes that are inconsequential and seem designed to stir interest in going through again just to see what’s new. I’m not sure if attendance is down as much as they say it is, but we’ve got a current president who is announcing new temples as if they are in high demand. Are they?
@Elisa and @Angela C
Regarding informed consent – Simply informing participants that these are the 5 covenants you’ll make isn’t informed consent. When you go through the temple you make many implied promises and agree to submit to harsh punishments (and I’m not talking penalties). True informed consent would be along the lines of yes, you’re making these 5 covenants but you’re also saying that if you don’t live up the the letter of the law in every way you’ll be in Satan’s power. You’re agreeing to wear the garment however defined by the brethren in the temple recommend interviews for the rest of your life. You’re agreeing to not ever discuss the weirdness of what you see with anyone. Yea I understand that in theory you can talk about it in sacred settings – but nobody does – so it’s a very strong implied and very much enforced contract.
Implied consent means you’d know much more about the next 4 hours in the temple than simply another Sunday school lesson about 5 vague principles. You’re entering a very secret club with its own clothing, customs, social norms, and hierarchy, even giving up your own life if necessary, to the building up of the kingdom of god. That is not listed in the church handbook or temple prep classes.
Travis, I typically enjoy reading your comments–but I disagree with you on this one, brother.
“To sum up, (1) our LDS concept for covenant is limited, incomplete, arguably misleading, and (2) to carry satan’s symbol right into the celestial room is an abomination.”
Inasmuch as we’re here having a new experience with no memory of our deep past it is only logical that the gospel is bound to come to us in the abstract. And there’s really only one way to inculcate it in such a way that we learn to comprehend it–and that’s by doing. We must live the gospel in order to “get it.” That’s what covenant making has to do with primarily; it’s a way of drawing us into living in a manner prescribed by Deity without violating our agency. Also, I think it’s important to note that most of the covenants we make in the temple are grounded in the scriptures–thereby suggesting that the Laws of the temple are not simplistic. But rather, they must be constantly studied and lived in order to be understood.
Re: the adversary’s symbol: come now, brother. Let me ask you a question: what was the difference between Cain’s and Abel’s offerings? Well, the short answer is: intent. Cain was commanded by the adversary to make an offering–and there’s no way to obey that influence and be properly motivated toward God. Even so, that’s not to say that the precept of offering sacrifice is evil in and of itself. It’s the same with Adam and Eve. Because they were initially instructed by the adversary to wear the apron–that shouldn’t be taken to mean that it’s forever wrong to wear it. IMO, the most profound meaning of the fig leaves is that of fertility and fecundity. And as such, it is a symbol that is charged with profound meaning when considered within the context of temple theology.
So I haven’t gone through the endowment ceremony since before the switch to the slide show.
Like many of you, my first time through, pre-1988 changes, was extremely negative. I came home in shock.
But I got acclimated to it with time and the elimination of the throat slitting gestures helped.
To me the only part of the endowment ceremony I really looked forward to were the movie scenes with great underwater shots, soaring fjords, and exotic animals. We we’re pretty poor for many years , so that was as close to these vacation spots I was going to get . So hearing they went to slide shows sounded like they took out the only interesting thing. I had assumed it was only temporary as they were changing up the ceremony, but it sounds like they kept this as a permanent feature?
In any case, it doesn’t matter, I won’t ever be going back.
The first time I went to the temple was in the 70’s. All temples had live actors then. Changing the ceremony to movies was a big change except that a couple of temples (SLC and Manti) kept the live ceremonies. So when my sister was married in 1987 in Manti, I experienced a mostly live ceremony with a couple of parts a soundtrack. But over time with tithing being part of the gatekeeper for a recommend and my ex still going to the temple because she didn’t ‘earn’ any money and me not going because I didn’t pay tithing but paid my/her bills instead, I quit going in the early 90’s. There were a couple of small changes from the 70s-90s that I wondered about if God was “The same yesterday, today, and forever” but with the changes that have happened since then that I’ve read about it just seems to be to be a slower adaption to the world than the church makes in its more open statements to the public. The changes made in regards to blacks, LGBTQ, Caffeine at BYU, and even abortion as well as the changes hidden from the public about the temple ceremony make me wonder who’s really running the church and makes me suspect that it’s more men than God.
@Travis, your post reminds me that Satan now tells Adam and Eve that they are naked, but he no longer tells them to make aprons. They apparently figure that out on their own now. Satan also makes no mention of wearing an apron himself.
Lots of minor changes in language that are interesting and mostly positive, but it was hard to keep track of them all.
I have to give the church some points for trying to respond to criticisms about the temple regarding informed consent and sexism. I also like that they are trying to do something to create a more Christ centered experience. I haven’t seen the new changes, so I don’t know if they actually move the needle on any of the problems listed above.
But – I agree with Chadwick. 13 MINUTES LONGER?? Boredom has been another top issue that I have with the temple. If we have to do the same endowment ceremony every time we go, couldn’t the covenants be packaged in a shorter ceremony, so that the boredom is a little more manageable? I think the church could easily increase temple attendance by having a ceremony that is 1 hour or less. 30 – 45 minutes would be even better! A shorter endowment ceremony would also make it possible to spend some time in the celestial room engaged in prayer, mediation or other spiritual practices for those who need it.
I meant to write meditation, not mediation.
All of the sexist, polygamist, coercive elements are fundamentally disturbing to me. But, as far as going through the actual motions, the weirdest part by far is the prayer circle. I just sit in dread the whole time until it’s over with. Any chance it can be removed/significantly altered?
So many good comments & I really appreciate people who have shared their experiences. For many of us, not feeling free to talk about these things for so long (I even felt weird about writing this post, even though I think that’s totally irrational) has been damaging and it’s so nice for that burden to be lifted.
Going to respond to some below, but first, some additional thoughts on changes that I have in reflecting:
I think the changes are actually kind of negative. As weird as all of the signs and tokens business was, I think moving towards a presentation-only mode where we are just shown things rather than symbolically receiving them by someone who received them down on from God and then Adam & Eve and then us as participants (which the live sessions made more clear that’s what was happening) completely eviscerates the embodied ritual aspect of it. Is it nice not to have to stand up and make changes to clothing? I guess yes, but also, that takes away again from the embodied aspect of a ritual where you experience living something out. Ditto to the changes they had already made to the initiatory. Was it kinda weird having someone put stuff on your body? Well, yes. But if you could get past that (and I understand many couldn’t), there was actually something quite beautiful as a woman to receive a kind of literal blessing and anointing by another woman. Taking that part out may have made it more comfortable, but it also made it sterile.
Maybe the temple is less weird now, but that also makes it less interesting, less connected to physically moving through different heavenly spaces, less connected to our own living out a hero’s journey, less connected to the way our pioneer forebears engaged in temple worship, less an embodied ritual, less high churchy. More sanitized, more sterile, more boring.
@Codeye, yep. I don’t get how you could read the New Testament and think any of this makes any sense.
@LHCA, I’ve never heard the concept of having a beautiful gift to return to the Savior. That’s really odd to me. Why would Jesus care about that stuff? Wouldn’t he be kinda pissed we didn’t feed, clothe, and house people instead? What use does he have for a temple ceremony? I thought the endowment was a gift to us, not a gift from us?
@JustMe, yep. When the 2019 changes came, people acted like women should be oh-so-happy about the changes. Setting aside that the changes were actually not changes, without apology and explanation there can be no healing. We’re just supposed to pretend that the many years we spent listening to the old language are wiped away. Nope.
@Jack Hughes, since writing this post I’ve heard they also recite the BoM scripture that we are saved by Christ after all we can do. So there’s that.
@Travis, I’m not really on the same page with you about a lot of the temple stuff, but I do love the way you frame covenant. A much better framing. As for the apron, what’s funny is that I always saw that as a beautiful part of the temple – to me, the apron represented our humanity as imperfect as it was, yet we got to keep it with us throughout. I thought it was a nice comment on the beauty of our flawed humanity. Also, since I got to use my grandmother’s apron that she had made, it was a meaningful part of the ceremony to be connected to my deceased grandmother and wear the same thing she had worn.
@Anna, the grinch comment – yes. So much yes to that. That’s part of why I don’t really care much either.
@Toad, I had the same experience re: penalty oaths. Years and years spent trying to decipher some kind of meaning in the shapes that my hands made. Turns out there was a meaning and it wasn’t a nice one.
@BigSky, thank you for sharing your experience (and your comment wasn’t too long or selfish). How interesting for you to have had that direct experience with Masonic ritual! Most of us haven’t. I can’t, but I also can, believe that your bishop lied. If we feel like we have to lie about our temple ceremonies then something is really off.
@Angela, yep. I’ve heard from several people who have been that they don’t see anything less sexist about it. On top of that, there’s now a line emphasizing that ADAM has the PRIESTHOOD, which seems a step backward since we silly women thought we were getting some kind of priesthood through temple ordinances.
Missed yours @Glendale. Mostly, the circle made my arm really tired & it was weird holding hands with a stranger for an extended period of time.
I’ve heard so many stories, first hand, from people who felt they were not adequately prepared. That is a tragedy and frankly a cultural problem. I was fortunate to have a father than viewed everything (church history, doctrine, policy, practice, culture, temple) as an open book. I was prepared pretty well by him and so I was not shocked my first time. When I served in positions where I was signing recommends, for own endowments, I followed my Dad’s approach. I spent about an hour with 1st time recommends. Always felt the cultural secrecy was silly. When were were married, my wife had a SP who later became a GA he was the same way with her as my dad was with me. I welcome these changes and look forward to more.
To me adding pictures of Jesus to the endowment misses the point when correcting the problem that the endowment has nothing to do with Jesus and the atonement. Getting signs and tokens to “pass by the angels” and get you into heaven is kind of the opposite of accepting Christ, repenting, and getting to Heaven through the atonement. There is just no place in the gospel of Jesus Christ for an endowment with signs and tokens to get you back into the presence of God the Father. It is the opposite of the atonement. You can’t take something that denies the atonement, add a few pictures of Jesus, and suddenly it becomes Christ centered.
Why don’t we just sell indulgences? That is kind of anti-atonement, then we can add a picture of Jesus with a certificate saying you have been forgiven, charge $50 for small sins, $1,000 for big sins and of course have a better quality picture of Jesus, maybe with a guided frame, and now selling indulgences is what Jesus would do.
Changing details about the endowment will not change the fact that it denies that the atonement is all we need to be reconciled to God. It is something *else* besides faith in Jesus, baptism, and repentance that is needed to return to our Father. Jesus said there was nothing else needed. We either believe Jesus and follow him, or we follow the brethren and do what they tell us we need to do instead of what Jesus told us we needed to do.
The only way to fix the endowment is to accept that it was not what Jesus told us was needed and throw it out as false. But then, a lot of Mormons are going to miss feeling like they have a ticket to Heaven that those wicked nonmember heathens don’t have. They will no longer feel special. They will no longer feel like God’s favorite. Then they will have to settle for being loved and maybe have to realize that God really does love all his children, not just them.
@Jack Hughes, understandable. Thanks for engaging. Sorry folks use that stupid down-thumb social-blog-control mechanism, I like your comments.
For conceptual covenant, if obedience, sacrifice, gospel, chastity and consecration, are more comfortable than sabbath, sacrifice, tithe, fast, and consecration, then stick to your guns. But it seems to me absurd to “obey” a law of obedience. This so-called covenant, which obligates the ego to “obey obedience,” is a neurocognitive construct for mind-washing. It’s a scientifically documented technique to control behavior which targets and subordinates the conscience to authority—a manipulating of the mind—something Jesus would not do—besides its being incongruent. Articulating “I covenant to obey the law of obedience” is the most acute poisoning of the well.
To call the first principles of the gospel “the law of the gospel” is equally absurd—particularly because doing so conflates covenant and ordinance. Faith is informed by ordinance, and ordinance is informed by covenant. Ordinance is not covenant (in the case of baptism, for example).
On Cain and Abel, yes, something could be said about “intent.” However, the true reason why the Lord rejects Cain’s offer is because it is not the correct order. Recall the meat offering in the court of the Israelite temple: it goes before the herb offering at the veil. To skip the meat offering is unrighteousness. Cain sought to skip the order and go right to the veil (an echo of Lucifer’s rebellion). In possessing a land [Canaan], the meat [Shepherds, flocks] go first to traverse and fertilize the land. Without fertilized land, there is no grass, herbs, flowers, orchards—no garden. No settlement, no possession, no inheritance. So essentially Cain’s pattern ruins the order of Creation, while Enoch’s pattern restores it to a new Creation. A lot more than “intent” going on there.
As for the Fig leaf apron symbol, the understanding of the fig leaf to represent “fertility and fecundity” is mistaken: the symbol is the opposite: the fruit appears before the flower (out of order, going ahead, like Cain). The flower blossoms inwardly, within the fruit, never seeing sunlight (blind, perverse). And to pollinate, a wasp enters the fruit, loosing its “heavenly wings” upon entrance and unable to escape: the wasps dead body pollinates the flower inside the fruit. The fig is a telestial order, the vine is a terrestrial order, and the olive is a celestial order. When the Lord saw the fig leaf upon Adam, He immediately removed it from him, and replaced it with a [terrestrial] leather “skin” of flesh and blood sacrifice. A telestial atonement for a terrestrial embodiment. The Lord gave us mortal bodies and a “temporal salvation” as an escape from the telestial “fig fruit trap.” By wearing the fig emblem of Satan/Cain throughout the entirety of the presentation of the endowment, we symbolically reject the sacrifice the Lord made in order to give us earth, embodiment, and resurrection. The satanic green apron should be removed by the terrestrial stage of the presentation, or removed altogether from the endowment.
@Jim Bennett, this is interesting. Thank you for sharing. The symbol does not lie. Superimposing a photo of Jesus on top of a satanic symbol is still a satanic symbol. Obfuscating this is worse than redressing it, and expresses that who ever is in charge of temple changes either doesn’t fully understand it, or is manipulating it. I sent a letter about this to my Bishop and Stake President about this some months ago, and asked them to send it upwards. Maybe it got through…hence the cover up.
Glendale88: Never say never, but I don’t think the prayer circle is a common complaint right now, and that’s probably just because there were worse things that were a higher priority. I too find the prayer circle to be…not my fave. But aside from being weird in a “high church” way, I’m not sure it’s fundamentally objectionable in other ways (e.g. sexism). It is gender normative in a weird way, though, and one thing I found disturbing is that if there are not enough male patrons, they will pair up two women, but I don’t believe they will ever pair up two men. Is that another nod to polygamy? Maybe.
Like several of you commenting, I was a dedicated temple-goer for several decades, attending on average once a month. And like many of you, I didn’t love the experience, but the prophets and my local leaders said God wanted me to go often, so I did, and felt good about being obedient to God. I figured there had to be more symbolism and meaning that I was missing, so I persisted, waiting for greater light and knowledge.
The hoped for light and knowledge, even after hundreds of sessions and effort on my part, never really came.
My view of the temple has changed radically in the past few years as I learned more about the origins (or non-origins) of the ceremony and of course how much it has changed over the years.
As far as I can tell, the temple ceremony is something Joseph Smith came up with, after becoming a Mason, and he used it as a loyalty test for followers and a way to launder his secret plural marriages. There never was any deeper light and knowledge. The ceremony, with all its words and signs, has always just been what it is.
I believe the continued temple emphasis by the Church exists mainly as a way to keep members attending and paying money. In other words, if you want salvation, you must go through the temple, and so you have to come to church and pay tithing. And once you have gone through the temple, well, you’ve made these covenants and if you break them, damnation awaits you.
As for me, I find it hard to believe that an essential ordinance of salvation and all the vicarious work that Mormons have attached to it did not merit a single mention by a prophet in the Bible.
How could Jesus, when he was on the Earth, not at some point say “by the way, I’m not going to get into the specifics, but there is a completely separate ordinance out there everybody has to have, some special words and signs and more covenants. Abraham did it, and it will come back someday, so stay tuned. Oh, and this has to be done for dead people also.”
I didn’t really address Elisa’s questions, but I think I’m pretty close to @Anna’s recommendation: “The only way to fix the endowment is to accept that it was not what Jesus told us was needed and throw it out as false.”
@Jack, I mistakenly mixed you with @Jack Hughes. My earlier response and appreciation was for you.
@Elisa, when I first experienced the presentation of the endowment, I was waiting for the point to get rid of the green apron—I understood the symbolism, and so I couldn’t imagine wearing the symbol throughout. By the end, I felt tricked: “Okay, so you folks got me to watch a poor quality video starring satan, and got me to walk around with this satanic symbol on my waist, and make “covenants” with this symbol (green amulet dark magik imagery), and these clothes are universally uncomfortable shopping bags.” Too much satan in the previous endowment for my taste—freaks me out that most LDS were cool with it that much satan. I most enjoyed seeing familiar and strange faces—everybody seemed like angels, and I thought that was the best part.
@East Coast Guy,
Joseph Smith did not get the temple from Masonry. Section 59 (August 7, 1831) is evidence that Joseph was teaching and talking about the temple long before his induction to Masonry (March 15, 1842). He used Masonry as a common denominator to collect Protestant men to the Restored Church—Masonry for Joseph was a tool he used to figuratively unify the sectarianism that so haunted him from youth (what church to join?). He used Masonry as a common fraternal society, necessary for the recruitment of labor and voluntary work, and also to embark on “settling” sovereign land—that’s it. Joseph and his family always considered Masonry to be an apostate feigning of priesthood.
Angela, I’ve been in three sessions in my years where I was paired up with a man because there weren’t enough women. It can happen, and has happened. I’ll admit that it felt a little weird the first time, but I knew the guy very well, so we pressed ahead.
1) I’m not dissatisfied with my temple experience, though I do wish it were closer. Still, a three-hour round trip is a lot better than 12, which is what it was when I was growing up; or even nine, which is what it was, a decade ago.
2) I haven’t been to the temple recently enough to have experienced these changes, but it doesn’t sound like a net negative. You do have a point that “some people actually prefer” “the ritualistic elements,” and it does sadden me that those analogies are no longer as apparent.
3) I’m guessing the changes were motivated by our ever-changing society, and their impact will be that people living in said society will better understand the things Father wants us to know. As for why they weren’t made in 2019, I can think of two possibilities: either a) the people weren’t ready for them yet; or b) the prophets hadn’t thought of them yet. Either way, I’m good with it.
4) Is there any plausible argument remaining that the temple ceremony is of ancient, unchanging origin? That depends: what do you consider “the temple ceremony”? If you’re talking about the signs and tokens, I see no reason to believe they’re not “of ancient, unchanging origin.” But if you’re talking about the other 99% of the time spent in an endowment session—i.e. the instructions surrounding the actual endowment—then no, I don’t think there’s a plausible argument for that, nor do I think the Church nor the prophets have ever claimed them to be.
As for the implications, maybe recognizing that the instructions change according to the needs of the people will help temple attendees to identify the endowment.
5) I’m not aware of the covenants changing in any significant way, so I’m not sure this question really applies.
6) As for seeing “a greater contingency of non-temple” Saints in my circles, that may be true, but I’m not sure we’re not “making space for them.” Is there something that makes you think we aren’t?
Finally, I notice a lot of people talking about “sexism” and “polygamy”. I’ve never felt the Church nor the temple to be sexist, unless one conflates “sexism” with “recognizing that men and women are different” (which I would hope we all do). I do think the General Authorities tended to be misandrist for a long time, but perhaps the men of the Church really were, by and large, that bad. Certainly the Prophet Jacob had to deal with that, in the Book of Mormon.
The temple instructions simply reiterate the order of the family: each wife is to “hearken to her husband as he hearkens to the Father.” To me, that seems pretty simple: if your husband doesn’t hearken to Father, you shouldn’t hearken to him; and if he does hearken to Father, he’s making you a full partner in all decision-making, anyway. I’ve never once seen my husband run roughshod over me and our children, nor do I think any husband can do so and still be “hearken[ing] unto Father.”.
As for “polygamy”, I think there are a lot of serious misunderstandings about it. First of all, plural marriage is a *form* of polygamy, but is not exactly the same; and secondly, while it is a *part* of the new and everlasting covenant, it has never been equivalent to it. I’m sure a lot of people equated them, 150 years ago—perhaps even some of the prophets—but the Doctrine and Covenants make it *extremely* clear that they are different, and I’m very surprised that anyone still thinks they aren’t.
Anyway, long response, but hopefully it’s helpful. ♥
@kristi, thanks for your comment. I think we see things pretty wildly differently and that’s ok. I would only say three things:
(1) While it’s nice that you don’t “feel” that the Church is sexist, whether or not gender inequality persists in the Church organization is not about feelings but about structure, language, and facts. Candidly, I don’t think there’s an argument that that Church and temple liturgy isn’t structurally sexist. Maybe you object to the term “sexism” because you think it’s a benevolent kind of sexism. But it is just a fact that in Church women do not have the power, authority, or influence that men do. We are excluded from decisionmaking and leadership. And we are not treated equally in the temple; setting aside hearken / obey / preside, men are promised to become kings and priests to “God” and women queens and priestesses “to their husbands.” Men are in multiple ways stand-in’s as literal saviors to their wives in the temple ceremonies. Maybe you don’t experience that as problematic, but I don’t think there’s an argument that there is equality in the way men and women are represented in the temple.
(2) I do not misunderstand polygamy. Our early church leaders practiced earthly polygamy (much to the detriment of my foremothers who were harmed by this practice), and our current church leaders practice spiritual polygamy (both Nelson and Oaks are sealed to two women). The temple sealing was expressly structured in a way to permit men to be sealed to multiple women but not women to be sealed to multiple men. (I am not sure whether that language is the same now but that’s what it was 16 yrs ago when I got married: I “gave” myself to my husband and he “received” me; he didn’t “give” himself to me because he can’t: he may be sealed to multiple women so cannot “give” himself to any one of them.)
(3) Where in the D&C does it distinguish between polygamous sealings and monogamous sealings? We now read Section 132 differently but only because we ignore the actual text. A textual reading is quite clear. I truly have no idea where your argument is coming from, and no, you shouldn’t be surprised that people who read the text itself interpret it differently than you do.
Other resources (on the road, there are many more, this is just a quick list of two):
Kristi, I just looked up misandrist. It says “a person who dislikes despises or is strongly prejudiced against men”. For you to say the early General Authorities were misandrist doesn’t make sense so I am guessing you were trying to say they were prejudiced against women.
As for the hearken: it has been removed from the endowment since 2019. I am deeply relieved it is gone. That means I no longer have to apply the mental gymnastics you just applied to make myself feel a little more equal to my husband and men in the church.
There are plenty of LDS husbands that don’t make their wives full partners. The terms “preside” “hearken” and “obey” help justify this decision by husbands, even with the word “equal” in the mix. It gets confusing. Women tend to defer, like they always have. Men expect that, when a woman doesn’t give in and defer she can be seen as broken, wrong or even sinful. I have real life experience with this both with my husband and bishops. Just because your experiences are different doesn’t mean my experiences are non existent.
I want to add that the church certainly doesn’t treat women as equal, not in final decisions in our ward stakes or in the whole church. Any decisions a woman makes in the church can be vetoed by a man over her. If she doesn’t defer and speaks up too much about that he can release her as well.
As for the new and everlasting covenant: I have read D&C 132 over and over. Read it. The whole chapter begins with Joseph asking questions about polygamy. The Lord responds by giving him the new and everlasting covenant. Read the manifesto when polygamy was ended. Read the accounts of early saints. They really believed polygamy was a necessary part of salvation.
I too am a believer and supporter of temple work and the church. But I no longer warp my vision to see things differently than they are. Be honest with yourself. Study. Allow yourself to see.
Could anyone point me to the Wheat?
Aaaand, Michael just answered Kristi’s question about whether folks in the Church make space for non-temple Mormons. Thanks Bro!
@Travis – I’m surprised that you don’t see any connection to Masonry and the Temple endowment. I’d have to go back and look at the history but I don’t think the rituals evolved till quite a bit later in Joseph’s life when he became quite taken with masonry. The Kirkland Temple wasn’t used the same way as our temples are now used for example. Joseph started giving the endowment to a select few as he introduced them to being given spiritual wives. Barf
I was endowed back in the penalty days and that part of the endowment still played out in my head every time I went. I’m at the point of believing that these secret/sacred rituals were only developed to keep a lid on JS’s polygamy, for which I have such abhorrence and strongly believe it’s not from God. The indoctrination to temple worship works very well for keeping people in line and for paying tithing to an organization that no longer needs our money but does need our commitment to keep relevant. It’s a huge waste of money and time taken away from being real followers of Christ. It also creates a two-tiered membership for those who can and cannot or don’t want to attend for whatever reason.
I renewed my TR last year only so that I could attend a family wedding and felt totally coerced and manipulated by the questions because it was almost impossible for me to answer them honestly. I won’t be doing that again. As someone who enjoys doing family history I now find it ludicrous to be doing all these ordinances for the dead – for which we can only do a chip of the iceberg.
I’m really surprised they’ve made the endowment longer and not shorter – that’s pretty crazy to me. I also agree with others that it’s pointless to have the part explaining the covenants at the beginning with the option to leave. I know it was probably inserted because of pushback about informed consent but it would be better placed in a good temple prep course which at the moment is still sadly lacking. Its so wishy-washy and just rehashes things we learn in SS. I know this because my non-heathen spouse is teaching the course in our ward at the moment and is constantly looking for better material.
@Elisa – I think I read that in the sealing part that husband and wife now give themselves to each other.
I have to admit — now don’t take this wrong — one of the reasons I enjoy reading your comments is because I’m a mystic at heart–though not as informed as you seem to be. I always find what you have to say interesting and illuminating–even when I disagree with you.
On the subject of the fig tree–we’ll have to agree to disagree. There are too many positive symbolic usages of the fig tree (IMO) for me to let go of its sacred connotations.
I believe that one of the reasons — if not the primary reason — that we shouted for joy in the premortal world was because we were offered an opportunity to participate in the bringing forth of human life. While I believe that we were somehow involved in the creation of lesser things–the bringing forth of human life was strictly reserved for the gods. And to know that this would be our first foray into participating in that creative effort meant that we would be on the high road of becoming like them. Hence all the excitement.
That said, I believe that wearing the apron at the adversary’s behest is not unlike Eve partaking of the fruit. She did the right thing–though at the wrong time. And in so doing she received knowledge that she was not able to live up to–knowledge having to do with the mystery of Godliness (IMO).
And just to add: Eve was more open to suggestion on the subject of becoming a life-giver than Adam was because of her design. You see, it’s all about life! And that’s why the apron is (IMO) such a marvelous symbol. It represents the potential to bring forth life–even eternal lives, if you will.
Re: The Law of Obedience: I wouldn’t get too fussy over the seeming double talk–it’s just one of those things. We covenant to live be covenant; we’re not truly loving until we love to love, and so forth. And on top of that we’re not really obeying obedience per se. We’re obeying a Law–and that Law (of obedience) is taught in conjunction sacrifice so that we might draw it out of the abstract and make it tangible.
Re: The Law of the Gospel conflating covenant and ordinance: All covenants are established through ordinances–though not every ordinance is utilized to establish a covenant.
Also, I don’t think it’s improper for a covenant to require the reception of ordinances in order to live up to it. Frankly, that’s how the lesser law comes to us. Israel was placed under covenant to be the Lord’s people–and what did he require of them in order to live up to that covenant? That they perform ordinances.
Thankfully we don’t have to go through all the rigamarole that they did in order to keep our focus. Even so, we do renew our covenants on a regular basis by means of an ordinance pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood. And that’s a beautiful thing (IMO) as it grounds us in those things that make possible the reception of the Holy Ghost–which (reception) gets us on the high road to eternal life.
I was really interested by the discussion of the apron. I’d never thought about it before but it does make sense to remove it when given the explanation of the garment and priestly robes. I’ll never not think of that now.
@decay, that may be the case. I’ve not done a sealing session since that change was made. I want a re-do on my wedding!
Ya’ll, stop trying to take away the coolest part of temple clothes ;-). On second thought, that would be fine. I would actually love to display my grandma’s apron (that she made, and wore herself) somewhere in my home as it’s a beautiful part of my heritage. But even as heretical as I am I don’t think that would go over well right now. Maybe if they decommissioned the use in the temple …
Remember the oft repeated verse from Moses 1:
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.
That’s ultimately what the apron represents–IMO.
I’m not a big fan of all of these changes. I represent the vast majority of the church who doesn’t want to see the leaders cave in to the worldly ‘woke’ agenda that is ultimately driving these changes. Any faith I ever had that the church is lead by divine revelation is pretty much gone.
I guess it helps me have more empathy for how liberals might have felt during the administration of right wing conservative Ezra Taft Benson. It’s not fun to be out of step.
@fred, what specifically about these changes reflects a woke agenda? I don’t actually think they do anything to advance gender or racial equality so wondering what I’m missing.
@Elisa, Well…I guess I was just reacting to the article in the SL Tribune. They said there were gender equity changes. I may have rushed to judgement a bit. But the substance of the feelings expressed in my post (concern that changing norms in the word are what drives the changes in the church) still stands.
@fred if it’s any comfort to you, I have asked multiple people and none have any clue what that Trib article is referring to. Rest assured the Church & temple remain steadfastly sexist 🙂
(Tongue in cheek but I do appreciate your comment. It is interesting to see how folks on both sides of the Great Woke Divide experience these things.)
Thanks Elisa. It feels good to share a brief fist bump with you over the divide. I remain steadfastly on my side, but I’ve learned a lot and developed some respect for other view points by hanging around a bit here at W and T.
Do you have any resources or references supporting your claims about the symbolism concerning figs?
@decay, the symbols and conduit metaphors for the temple are Hermetic in nature, and Joseph’s temple motifs run far closer to Rosicrucianism and especially Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) than to Freemasonry. Under the umbrella of Hermeticism, Masonry, Rosicrucianism and Kabbalah share symbols like common language, but to assume the symbol has Masonic origin, instead of Kabbalist origin, one would have to tease out and differentiate mystery motifs independently. Kabbalah has a longer history and claims a more exclusive “mystery” than the commonplace fraternal order of freemasonry. Joseph’s links and personal access to Jewish Mysticism via Alexander Niebaur are plentiful. There was nothing secret about Masonry by Joseph’s time—all was published publicly by anti-Masonic factions. The argument that Joseph aligned the temple more with Kabbalah has been made by scholars such as Harold Bloom, Lance Owens, Hugh Nibley, and Hartley Lachter. For me personally, however, the greatest evidence that Joseph was tuned into the ancient Israelite temple, is his tactful coordination of the first temple ordinances, directly with the Hebrew calendar and the ancient Israelite Festivals (“King, Calendar, and Covenant: Joseph Smith, Restored Temple Ordinances, and Israelite Temple Festivals” https://academia.edu/resource/work/94819636). Joseph synthesizes modern and ancient temple ordinance in this.
For a landing place for the awkward penalties presented in the past, consider Jesus and Judas at Gethsemene: the betrayal is represented by an embrace, the setting is the holy place, the veil is implied, and penalties personified thereafter (in Judas’ variation of death).
Look, all I want is an afterlife with fly fishing. And maybe barbecues with the family. Sort of like an ideal retirement. When I get tired of that I’ll let y’all know. But don’t hold your breath.
Interesting discussion with linking Jewish symbolism to temple ritual. Thank you for educating me. It sounds plausible but still doesn’t satisfy my thinking that it came to Joseph by way of revelation. This can just as easily suggest that he could have scooped these rituals and symbolism from several sources. I mentioned in another post several months ago how my husband and I accompanied a couple to the temple for their first time after the priesthood ban was lifted. The evening before we went out together to watch a movie – Murder By Decree. The murders were all based on descriptions in Masonic rituals. It was very shocking and embarrassing because we then had to explain to this couple on the way to the temple what they were about to experience in terms of the described penalties 😳 My husband has a couple of books on the temple by LDS authors and I think they make a case for linking the temple rituals back to Israel. I’m fine with folk believing whatever they want to believe but I’m not convinced myself at this time.
Angela, I’ve had the same experience as Georgis during temple day while at the MTC. Nearly all of us were male. A little odd, but oh well.
@not a cougar, I thought there was some weird rule that elders and sisters couldn’t pair up for the prayer circle. So I’m pretty sure I remember circles where sisters were paired and elders were paired.
I experienced the changes this week (and will do sealings tomorrow and see if there’s any improvement on gender parity there?). The only thing I can imagine that sparked the Trib comment is that a female is shown approaching the veil, and by eliminating the heavenly visuals you have fewer men in the mismatched gender ratio of the slideshow portion. What I’m longing for is a double speed version, or a streamlined express version for those of us who have been dozens or hundreds of times and no longer need repetitive explanations… I did appreciate the Christ focus and added prequel.
Really appreciate the honesty here as well as the respect for what others find sacred and meaningful.
I went to the temple this year for the first time in some years. It felt about the same.
I’ve been glad here to see people express their bafflement, my chief response from start to finish, did I not make those covenants when baptised? I am by nature an obedient person and see the necessity of finding ways to keep us more safe and increasingly conscious, and I think covenants have the potential to do that should we engage with them that way.
I don’t think I ever learnt anything from the film I didn’t already know or it has left me equally baffled, I love praying for my sisters and brethren in the circle.
But I’m glad I didn’t prioritise it over building my home or my kids activities or caring for our elderly or all the yard work. I enjoyed all that and the dead can wait.
At one point our bishop saw fit to take away our recommends when our daughter was potentially dying, we had a new baby and he felt we were not being obedient in forcing our other errant daughter into his office on a weekly basis. That broke my relationship with the church and I have never felt the need to comply other than to not distress others since. I lost my trust.
I’m also interested in how strongly we can disagree about issues relating to the temple and don’t want to have strong feelings about that. Some clarification about that would help. But there. I have sough that, most recently when I last went and found a friend to be a temple worker, but she could tell me nothing other than those are not the questions she asks.
Should I let myself just be soothed by it all, like a crying child with a loving parent saying, ‘there, there, darling, it will all be fine, just trust me I got this’. Think that’s where I am now.
I think the Church is trying to make the endowment more understandable, meaningful and applicable to our everyday lives and the struggles we face in our efforts to become more Christlike. I applaud the changes and know they personally helped me gain a better understanding of the purpose of life and the plan for us to be able to return to the presence of the Father.
@Jack, there is certainly a place for the fig in the presentation of the endowment, no question. A prominent place. But for the endowment to be instructive, the fig leaf is conceptually removed/exchanged upon entering the mortal body, the terrestrial world. We inherit from the womb-like fig symbol, the Gate to the First Estate, which is the Mortal Body, identified by Flesh and Blood, and from the Second Estate, the Resurrected, Immortal Body—identified by the incorruptible “linen” garment, a skin, or covering of Light. Rabbis say fig trees lay the keylines and terraces for grape vineyards in an idealized, restored Israel. Which is to say, after a separation, the fig and vine are brought together in harmony, fertility and prosperity.
Elisa, the only rule I recall was that missionaries weren’t allowed to perform sealings. I stood in a prayer circle with sister missionaries a couple of times and no one said boo about it. Things may have changed either before or since I was there many, many years ago.
Thank you for posting this link. https://bycommonconsent.com/2021/10/28/she-shall-believe-or-she-shall-be-destroyed-dc-121-and-132/
It’s eye opening even for someone like me with mental health training. Somehow I think maybe I knew these things about D&C 132 already… but I couldn’t connect them in my consciousness.
It’s definitely an interesting journey to be raised as a woman in the church. Somehow we are prevented from seeing and knowing our own domination, even when it’s clearly and openly documented in our sacred books, and happening in our relationships and church and temple practice. We give consent to this, not only because we can’t see it (it’s just the air we breathe) but also because from a young age we are taught to consent to it. That’s what it means to be a good girl/woman, to quietly support this structure and not even see it.
Thank you for opening my eyes today.
Travis, I understand symbols slightly differently than you do. Having lived in different cultures, and studied the history of religion, I have seen how under different circumstances symbols can have different meanings. Several symbols are used in multiple ways. Symbols seldom have *one* hard and fast and unchangeable meaning. So, you are correct that the fig leaf has some meanings under which the apron should be removed. But others are also correct in saying that the fig leaf is sacred and should be worn throughout the entire endowment. It depends on what the fig leaf is symbolic of to you as an individual in different circumstances.
I have enjoyed hearing how you interpret the symbols and I agree with you on some and learned a new perspective on others. I like learning from you even if we might have a different perspective.
To me, the fig leaf is one of the only symbols in the temple of the Goddess Wisdom, who is our mother in Heaven. But like I said, different symbols have different meanings in different situations.
Which make symbols a BAD way to teach religious principle unless those symbols are explained. This explaining of the symbolic meaning in the temple ceremony is something the church has been refusing to do, which sometimes causes offense when people apply a negative meaning instead of a positive one. A example of this is there are five pointed stars adorning the temples, and under certain circumstances, some people see the five pointed star as a symbol of Satan. I am positive that is not the meaning in the temple, but then it is never explained, yet I have ears people all bent out of shape over those stars. Not explaining what the symbols stand for is a problem. A Big problem.
Elisa, thanks for your civil response. Isn’t it great when can disagree without being disagreeable?
I don’t want to make this an argument, but I think you may have misunderstood my point about sexism, perhaps because we’re coming from different foundations. In my mind, sexism is—to quote Dictionary.com—“discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex or gender, as in restricted job opportunities, especially such discrimination directed against women.” I’m sure you’ve been the victim of sexism in your life, as have I; but I honestly don’t see sexual distinction as “discrimination or devaluation.”
Let me share an example: almost 30 years ago, a man I know was a full-time missionary when President Hinckley gave a General Conference talk about the women of the Church. Following that talk, this man became suicidal and begged his mission president to release him. (Thankfully, the president refused and helped him through it, but that’s not really the point.) The point is that he felt that in the few years he had been a member of the Church, every General Conference address about men had focused on their depravity and need to repent; while every address about women had focus on our spirituality and eternal value. Does that men the Church is sexist against men? Of course not, but we see things as we see them, and his perceptions are every bit as valid as yours.
It’s fine that you feel that in the Church, “women do not have the power, authority, or influence that men do,” but I honestly don’t see it that way. What I see is that when a woman gets baptized, she has all the Priesthood authority she needs to witness, to preside, to receive and even perform ordinances in the temple, to become a Queen and Priestess, and eventually a Heavenly Mother in her own right. Conversely, when a man gets baptized, he has all the Priesthood authority he needs to go to the bathroom. It’s long been said that men hold Priesthood offices because they need that to learn, while we don’t. Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t, but it really seems to be the case, I just don’t think we should be denigrating men for needing training we don’t!
You also mention that your foremothers were “harmed” by plural marriage. If that be the case, I’m very sorry to hear that; but I’m honestly not sure how that would be possible. A woman’s psyche can be harmed by her husband’s poor choices (as can a husband by his wife’s), but there are pros and cons to any situation. If your foremothers only focused on the downsides of their husbands having other wives, I can see it would be a net negative; but there are *huge* downsides to monogamy, too! For example, I would love nothing more than to be a stay-at-home mom, but our family situation doesn’t allow for that. What if we had a second income from a second wife? Even if I had to work so she could stay home with my kids, it would be better than what we have now.
Finally, I think you may also have misunderstood my statement about the new and everlasting covenant. You ask, “Where in the D&C does it distinguish between polygamous sealings and monogamous sealings?” It doesn’t, and that’s exactly my point. As you said, “A textual reading [of Doctrine & Covenants 132] is quite clear,” but I feel that that clarity proves that the “new and everlasting covenant” is *not* plural marriage. If you can point out somewhere in that section (or any other) where the two are equated, I’m more than happy to listen, but I just read it again and still don’t see it. (I see where it can be misinterpreted that way, but as far as I can see, that’s not what the text actually says.)
Anyway, thanks again for the civil discussion. I really appreciate it! 😊
@lws, that whole series (I think it’s in 6 parts) is really good and eye-opening. It’s amazing how we condition ourselves to ignore the actual text and context of D&C 132. It is quite troubling that it forms the basis of our understanding of marriage.
Hi lws329. Thanks for your comments!
First of all, no, I meant what I said about the Church’s misandry. I don’t know that *early* church leaders were that way, but I certainly know men that have felt slighted by when they see as the Church’s maltreatment of men. I shared a story of one of them in my last post to Elisa, so hopefully that will be up by the time I finish this.
As for “hearkening”, I sorry you feel my assessment to be “mental gymnastics”. I sincerely disagree, but I guess that’s what makes the world go round, right?
You also state that “there are plenty of LDS husbands that don’t make their wives full partners,” and you’re absolutely right! However, I have plenty of friends that aren’t Latter-day Saints, and they have the same complaint. Should the Saints be better? Of course, and I frankly think they are! But the Church doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Humans are prideful, and I personally men are more so than women. When a man fails to make his wife a full partner, that’s not the Church’s fault; the Church is *constantly* telling them to do so. Even the Lord Himself said it in Doctrine & Covenants 121:36–37: “the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, … but when we undertake … to exercise control or dominion or compulsion … it is withdrawn [and] Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”
As for your experience, I would never deign to claim it nonexistent because mine are different. And to be clear, I’ve had experiences, as well: for example, I met the love of my life in high school, and we wanted to get married right after my mission. But a well-meaning elder instructed me, in a Priesthood blessing, not to get married yet. We both wanted to, but we waited because of the blessing. That delay meant we married six months later, and due to health problems that came on shortly after our marriage, our childbearing was delayed by some 7½ years. That’s 7½ years I won’t have with my children and grandchildren. Years later, this elder (who, incidentally, is now deceased) came to me and admitted that the blessing had come from him, not Father, and begged my forgiveness. I do forgive him, but I cannot forget. Our lives and our family have been irrevocably changed due to his misuse of Priesthood authority, and I fully recognize that.
But is that the Church’s fault? If my husband were to “exercise control or dominion” over me, would that be the Church’s fault? We’re only human. We screw up. If the Lord or His prophets tell me not to do something and I do it anyway, that disobedience isn’t their fault; they tried! It’s *my* fault for doing it, just as it would be my husband’s fault if he sinned against me.
I also disagree that “the church certainly doesn’t treat women as equal.” Of course “any decisions a woman makes in the church can be vetoed by a man over her,” but the same goes for any decisions a man makes in the Church. To be honest—and I know this may be hurtful, but I promise I don’t mean it that way— the only sexism I see in this thread is the idea is that having men in certain leadership positions is somehow wrong. If the bishop were a woman, would it be sexist for her to release a man that thought differently? Sure, it *could* be, but it shouldn’t be the default assumption.
Finally, you reference Doctrine & Covenants 132, which is great. I did just read it again, and you’re absolutely right that “[t]he whole chapter begins with Joseph asking questions about polygamy.” However, the Lord *never* equates plural marriage with the new and everlasting covenant. Yes, the new and everlasting covenant is also spoken of, but how many sections of the Doctrine & Covenants consist of the Lord giving Joseph way more than he bargained for? Heck, even the First Vision falls into that category!
You also encourage me to “[r]ead the accounts of early saints [that] really believed polygamy was a necessary part of salvation.” I’ve read their accounts many times, and I absolutely agree with them! It *is* a necessary part of salvation! The problem is that people tended to ignore the Prophets’ teachings: just because we need to support the doctrine of plural marriage doesn’t mean every individual has to personally enter into a plural marriage. Even at the height of plural marriages in mortality, the men in Utah outnumbered the women, so it would have been physically impossible for that to happen. Yet somehow, neither the Lord nor the Prophets ever said anything derogatory about those that were never called to participate, only those that were *unwilling* to do so.
I’m sorry you think I’m not being honest with myself, that I’m not allowing myself to see, but I think I see quite clearly. I just don’t see things the same as you, and that’s okay. 😊
I actually have positive feelings about polygamy myself. I am the descendant of Matilda and John Douglas. John and Mary Douglas came to Utah in the Martin hand cart company. Both their children died on the trip and Mary wrote to her sister Matilda in England (also a recent widow with children), and invited her to come to Utah and marry John as well. Mary actually raised one of Matilda and John’s daughters and it wasn’t widely known the child wasn’t hers. This is a great and positive story.
However this story doesn’t eliminate the negatives of my other family polygamy story. My great grand mother who I knew personally was the daughter of a polygamist who had 4 families. He would occasionally come to dinner but he never spoke to my great grandmother. She only had one interaction with him. She passed him unexpectedly on a city street. She showed him that her shoes were worn out and asked for a new pair. He said no.
How is that for exalting fatherhood? Are you suggesting that my greatgrandmother should have focused on the positive aspects of having no relationship with her father? This story doesn’t really match the family values taught at church. To say otherwise sounds like toxic positivity to me.
You make some points that polygamy was used by some families in a positive way. Women ran for public office while their sister wives raised their kids. Somehow I don’t think this positive is what our current church teaches today either whereas we are encouraged to exalt motherhood as our most important role.
Women were much more independent in some ways back then. Back then sisters gave blessings of healing. They also had their own room in the temple to perform special ordinances for women about to give birth. Women managed all the fast offerings and caring for the poor themselves without male supervision, as Joseph Smith promised in the first RS meeting. Emma and her counselors were even ordained with the priesthood and told to pick deacons and teachers from among the sisters (see josephsmithpapers.org). It was a whole different way of seeing women and family before the strong focus on the nuclear family and church correlation in the 1920s.
As a wife and a mother of 5 sons I find your comments about men to be denigrating to both men and women. Nowhere in our sacred works does it say that women are born with more sense than men, or that men need the priesthood and we don’t. These are gas lighty statements that try to put women on a pedestal so that if we move we will fall off and it will be seen as our fault for saying anything that isn’t positive. The current church hierarchy favoring men has negative effects on both men and women, as your story illustrates.
I am aware that we have many benevolent men who treat women well. The point isn’t how well they treat us. The point is that they are given the presiding position and women are not in the presiding position. It becomes the man’s choice whether to treat us well in their decision making or choose to delegate any decisions to us. As I have experienced, priesthood holders can also choose not to treat us well. They can choose not to delegate and to micromanage every last decision down to the ground. That is their right in the hierarchy of the church. Particularly, the bishop’s right.
This is their choice. In the hierarchy of the church we women are only gifted with the choice to submit and consent, or to withhold our consent and be seen as disrespectful (and be destroyed). That is our choice in the frames of D&C 132, and often that is how our choices are administered in the framework and culture of the church. There are powerful social constraints put upon us to consent to our position in the hierarchy, and even to be unable to see the hierarchy and it’s effects on us.
That’s all well and good as long as men choose well. But it remains their choice, not ours.
Just to be clear I am not blaming the church for poor treatment of women. However, I am saying that we, as a church are responsible for how our teachings and church structure can effect people’s actions, even if the over all culture is misogynist, the same as we are.
About men, and the hierarchy, no man is dependent upon a woman over him in the church, to allow him to receive ordinances essential to his salvation. No man has to confess his sins to a woman over him in the hierarchy to be forgiven. Unless you are a male primary teacher, no man in the church has to be accountable to a woman for how he carries out his calling. Ward and and stake boundaries are established according to how many priesthood holders pay tithes in the area. Women are irrelevant to what’s necessary for church structure.
I appreciate your engagement on this topic. Thank you for your comments. I suggest you read the three articles Elisa posted in her first response to your comments. They are a vigorous exercise for the mind and spirit. Enjoy!
Travis: “We inherit from the womb-like fig symbol, the Gate to the First Estate, which is the Mortal Body, identified by Flesh and Blood. . .”
I might be getting a little nit-picky here–but I think it’s important to point out that not only does the symbol have to do with the means provided to get us into the mortal world it also represents our ability to be involved with those means. While the Lord does most of the work involved with the creation of life in this sphere he allows us to participate in the process in such a way that we feel a deep sense of stewardship and kinship — even ownership if you will — with those whom we birth and nurture. And that’s one of the reasons why I believe this life is vital for everyone–even those who have never so much as heard the name of the Savior. Not only is it important that we receive an inheritance of flesh and bone–it is also crucial that we take our first steps as life givers.
@kristi, those are big topics and I don’t have the emotional energy to go into them all, especially because there is so much already written about those topics so I will mostly be sharing links.
(1) While it may be possible to believe that men & women are different in a way that is not negative, that is not the reality in our Church. Our Church is structured, intentionally, as a patriarchy in which the men lead and the women follow. Full stop. That’s great that you feel like you have everything you need based on your baptism. That doesn’t change the fact that our Church structurally excludes women from leadership and decisionmaking.
Here is a great list of ways that LDS women are excluded / marginalized at Church (plus a celebration of some of the progress that has been made!):
(2) It is not unusual that my ancestresses experience pain in polygamy. There are tons, and tons, and tons of accounts of the pain that women (and men, and children) suffered under polygamy when practiced in early Church history AND spiritual polygamy (still practiced).
This podcast series has a ton of information about women who lived, and suffered, under polygamy:
Todd Compton’s book In Sacred Loneliness likewise provides detailed historical accounts.
This is also an excellent series on polygamy:
And Carol Lynn Pearson’s book goes into the problems with current spiritual polygamy practices:
I also loved Jennifer Finlayson-Fife — LDS marriage & family therapist — thoughts on polygamy:
(3) D&C 132 is not about monogamous sealings, full-stop. It is exclusively about plural marriage. There is no textual basis for applying it to monogamous marriage.
I first went through an endowment session in Dec of 1993. I didn’t even know, for about 20 years, that there had ever been any changes! I remember putting on my veil and trying to tie the bow above my ear per the instructions, when my mom said that was just for the men. I thought “well why didn’t they specify that?” I felt pretty invisible as a woman in the endowment , especially as Eve never said a word after leaving the Garden. So when I went after the 2019 changes, I was a little excited. The instruction was more specific about the caps and the bows, and, more importantly, Eve had a speaking part after leaving the Garden of Eden! They weren’t huge changes; the overall tone was still male-centric (ex the demonstration at the veil was still only Adam), but it was an improvement.
As for same sex prayer circle pairings, while I have wondered about the possibility, I don’t recall ever seeing any. If more women than men went up, another man was invited or a male temple worker was found. Sometimes there were just very small circles, and the officiator could barely get to the alter.
It’s interesting to read about the changes, but I won’t be going to see them. My recommend lapsed during COVID, and I no longer attend church.
I don’t think it’s fair to automatically equate “new and everlasting covenant” with polygamy. For example, see Doctrine and Covenants section 22 where the phrase is directly related to baptism. When I come across the phrase I associate it with the gospel in it’s entirety while emphasizing the role of priesthood ordinances such as baptism, sealing, etc.
@tim, hmm. I don’t think so.
(1) D&C 22 refers to “a new and an everlasting covenant”. D&C 132 is the one that defines the sealing as “the new and everlasting covenant.”
(2) how would you explain that men are to become priests and kings to God but women are to become queens and priestesses “in the new and everlasting covenant”? If the new and everlasting covenant is just the priesthood and priesthood ordinances, then why don’t men and women have the same promise? Why do men relate directly to God but women only “in” the “new and everlasting covenant?” And in particular given the context where previously the language was “queens and priestesses unto their husbands”? Wouldn’t that previous language suggest that the revision also relates to husbands, ie, marriage?
Even if you’re right and it’s all of the ordinances, the reality is still that the promises given to men and women in the temple are not the same. Men have a direct line to God. Women only to “the new and everlasting covenant,” whatever that means.
Elisa, the ordinances of the endowment bestow upon both men and women the same powers–they’re identical. None are excluded from accessing heaven vis-a-vis the ordinances.
But the New and Everlasting covenant of Marriage is a complementary relationship. The man and the women are equal–but not identical. The woman is “veiled” within the stewardship of the man as a matter of protecting and navigating sacred space. (And I suppose if we were to get nit-picky about that arrangement we could argue that that places the woman on a more sacred footing than the man.) Even so, I would say that it at least places her at the “center” of creation in–lieu of of anything else that might be said (about the arrangement).
That said, what we forget sometimes is that in spite of the complementary-ness of the relationship between the two it won’t work unless they are one. And it is in being one that both the woman and the man inherit all things together. Though one may perform more of her operations more closely to the center than the other that is not to say that one is therefore “above” the other. Adam and Eve are coregents–though obviously different in some of their functions. And it is those important differences — those things that make the cosmos go around — that are reflected in the ordinances having to do with celestial marriage.
@jack, nope, nope, nope, and nope. I’m not even going there.
To riff on something the illustrious RBG said, “I ask no “sacred space” for my sex. All I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks.”
What I can’t see is how they can be coregents while one presides. You also might note that women are no longer veiled in the temple.
So why doesn’t the man need to be protected as a matter of navigating sacred space, but the woman does? Nothing in our actual doctrine says women are more sacred than men, except these sort of statements leaders put out to tell us to quit complaining about our status. A woman alone can’t stand at the center of creation any more than a man can do. I don’t get why you think that evens things out.
What exactly is complementary in the temple between men and women? What operations does a woman do nearer the center?
In order to be one in a truly intimate safe relationship men and women have to relate as equals rather than one up, one down and protected in a lower hierarchy, veiled position.
How do you see Adam and Eve as “obviously different in some of their functions”? It isn’t obvious to me.
If you are going to look at roles, you might consider Eve’s position of questioning and considering on her own, rather than obeying, and then exercising her own spiritual authority to disobey God, and then to lead Adam to follow after her. Perhaps that is what we women are doing today when we ask the men of the church to step down from presiding and protecting, and let us be fully equal in leading the church and our families
Sexism disguised as, well, sexism, is still sexism. Imagine that.
Recognizing the fundamental differences between men and women is not sexism. And unifying men and women in an eternal complimentary relationship is the key to eternal life and felicity.
“The woman is “veiled” within the stewardship of the man as a matter of protecting and navigating sacred space.” What does this even mean?
“that places the woman on a more sacred footing than the man” Pedestal much?
“it at least places her at the “center” of creation” Why does the women need to be at the center? Can’t the man and woman embrace each other, so they are both at the center and at the edge at the same time?
“And it is those important differences — those things that make the cosmos go around — that are reflected in the ordinances having to do with celestial marriage.” Really? The differences between men and women is what makes the “cosmos go around”? Sexual reproduction between a male and a female is required to keep many species, including humans, alive. So, yeah, I’ll grant you that we do need men and women for sexual reproduction, but I really don’t know about the cosmos (and I don’t think anyone does).
I really don’t mean to be rude, but your explanation sounds like metaphysical mumbo jumbo to me. It feels like a fancier version of the language that has been used by male Church leaders (and their female lap dogs) all of my life to keep women in their “rightful” (lesser) place. I believe that a favorite Book of Mormon phrase provides a much more compelling answer for why we insist on treating women differently or as lesser people in the Church: it is simply a “foolish tradition of our fathers”. The patriarchy didn’t come from God. It is a manmade construct. Our society is finally slowly but surely tearing patriarchy down. Yes, “The World”, not the Church, is leading the way yet again. The Church, as always, will condemn “The World’s” evil “philosophy” of gender equality (because “eternal truths”), and then when the battle is lost, it will embrace the change (because “ongoing restoration”). Some of us just wish the Church would move a little faster on this issue than it is.
First sentence: So say the racists, so say sexists.
Second sentence: strawman and red herring.
Omission: no reply to specific questions directly addressed to your claims.
Conclusion: a troll by any other name is still a troll.
Believe in women more, Jack. Your sexism across multiple threads is extremely disturbing, disgusting, and out of place. You are way out of line.
Jack, I agree that men and women have fundamental differences and that it is not sexism to say so. The sexism piece is if you are saying those differences justify the basic inequity between men and women in final decision making opportunities in the church. Even Elder Oaks doesn’t justify this with the idea that women are different than men. He has said we don’t know why God decided not to give women the priesthood but that we shouldn’t engage in old fashioned rationalizations justifying it.
However I imagine the fundamental differences you are referring to might be different than the ones I am referring to. What differences are you referring to? Admit it. Say it.
I also believe in complimentary relationships when they are truly equitable. Complimentary relationships are nowhere in our doctrine. Present the basis of your statements.
Your statements are based on culture and tradition.
“Our society is finally slowly but surely tearing patriarchy down.”
And it is taking the family with it. That’s how the adversary does his work. He piggy backs on virtue in order to get the job done. Patriarchy in and of itself is not evil. Men are evil. As I ‘ve said before: patriarchy needs to be cleansed — not destroyed — and matriarchy exalted.
“‘that places the woman on a more sacred footing than the man’ Pedestal much?”
I was saying that that’s how some folks might interpret what I was saying–but that’s not what I’m saying at all. Even so, I’m not opposed to men placing women on pedestals. It makes men better men.
“‘The woman is “veiled” within the stewardship of the man as a matter of protecting and navigating sacred space.’ What does this even mean?”
It seems to me that the cosmos is created in a way that protects sacred space. In fact that’s one of the things we learn in the temple–we can’t just ascend willy-nilly. There are certain prerequisites that need to be met in order for us to successfully navigate sacred space. With that in mind, when what consider that which is most sacred above all it should be obvious why the woman is at the fulcrum of eternity–the center. That’s not to say that the man is absent. Both are present–there’s plenty of overlap. But their complimentary relationship works in a way that allows the most sacred fruit to be brought forth in the most sacred space. No other arrangement will do.
@jack, if women are so amazing, I recommend we just let them decide how they want to be treated instead of men telling them how they should want to be treated.
Brian: “Believe in women more, Jack.”
You need to have a little chat with my five daughters.
Iws329: “What differences are you referring to? Admit it. Say it.”
Even when I barely allude to those differences I’m labelled a sexist. Even so, I hope that my last few comments will give you a sense of what I’m talking about.
“Complimentary relationships are nowhere in our doctrine.”
I could also say that now where is it proclaimed in our doctrine that only women are to bear children. Some things go without saying. Even so, I would say that complimentary relationships can be considered doctrinal–depending on how we define doctrine, that is. But that’s another can of worms.
Eliza “If women are so amazing, I recommend we just let them decide how they want to be treated instead of men telling them how they should want to be treated.”
I agree. Just don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Let’s not throw away our eternal inheritance because some differences between men and women must remain.
Questioning the terms of this discussion. I propose a correction.
‘Complementarity’ might help, as opposed to ‘complimentarity’.
As a woman,I need your respect, not your flattery.
Interesting how everyday sexism contaminates us even when we’re trying.
Thanks for the correction.
“As a woman, I need your respect, not your flattery.”
That’s a fun quip. Even so, I think women need both (generally speaking) as do men–especially from their significant other. My wife knows of my profound respect for her. She also knows that I think she’s really *really* nice to look at.
I have had many friends (sadly) leave their religious faiths, but it seems only Latter-Day Saints care enough to stick around and blog, gossip, speculate, comment, rehash, reassign, and reassault those who simply enjoy their religion. If someone wants to spend their time, energy, and resources, attending a house of worship, pledging to keep religious commandments, remain faithful to their spouse, and share their talents to bless other people…why are there so many skeptics and non-believers trying so heartily to dissuade them? Why not expend the same energy trying to convince people committing crimes not to harm others? Or pick up trash on a highway? Or teach literacy skills to children. Why not give the same fervor to finding another religion or secular cause entirely? (All causes that those “do-gooders” seem so invested in.) Why not work to build something, anything, up, as opposed to dismantling what was not fulfilling for you?
@Holly that’s cute that you think you know how we are spending our time and assume that we aren’t doing any of the things you say we should be doing.
In any event, nothing in this post was criticizing ordinary Mormon folks who like to attend the temple. I have no issue with them. I do have issue with the men in suits who claim to be the mouthpieces of God when they are in fact simply turning their own opinions into doctrine and dogma–at the expense of those ordinary Mormons (who I love) and my predominantly Mormon community (which I can’t escape). And I will speak up against that harm, which I think is every bit as important as “trying to convince people committing crimes not to harm others.”
If you’ll bother to look at my other posts, you’ll see that the vast majority of them are about Jesus and God and, in fact, aimed at building “something up”–i.e., resurrecting a Christianity and theology that for many burned to ashes when they lost faith in the LDS Church because of its boneheaded leaders, judgmental members, and twisted theology.
Hey Holly, I find membership and attendance at church and temple very fulfilling. I work hard every week and at home to build something wonderful.
I love to discuss, research, ponder and pray, rather like Joseph Smith. I don’t need someone in authority to tell me what to think. I love to follow Jesus Christ and study his gospel.
I love a good discussion where every angle of a problem is honestly and openly examined. I may change my mind, or not. I feel bored, discounted and coerced by those who ask me to sit in silence and believe everything someone in authority says.
If you are uncomfortable with our discussion with various points of view discussed, please don’t log on. I personally mean you no harm. In fact, on Sunday you might see sitting in the next pew, smiling at you, keeping my covenants, sharing my talents and remaining faithful to my spouse, as always.
I actually spend all kinds of time doing all kinds of great things in my area. I also believe that thinking and considering religion in an honest way can help you think in a more grey, flexible way. That way when you encounter something you didn’t know, you don’t have to say “Oh no the church isn’t true!” and leave the church. Instead you can say “Yeah, some things are great about the church and the members and leaders, others not so much.” and stay in the church and do what you can to make it a safe welcoming place for everyone.
I love the changes. It’s one of the best temple experiences I’ve had.
I have no idea what prompted the changes, but based on my experience I suspect part of the reason was to help those participating in the rite to understand it better. I think it’s going to be a terrific help for folks new to the temple. Many of the changes make explicit how central Christ is in the faith and this rite. I loved the context added about Christ. I believe it’s a continuation of what President Nelson started with the focus on the name of the Church.
Of course, I’m guessing. I’m sure there were a number of reasons for the various changes.
I still have questions about some of the symbolic actions. As for the apron, I think it’s beautiful. The rite echoes some of the old morality stories that ask the viewers to put themselves in the place of the characters. You can see one example with Pilgrim’s Progress and the main character Christian, which is a stand in for the reader. Likewise, we’re asked explicitly to stand in here. And so the apron is a symbol of our imperfection. Of the fact that we’ve made mistakes and sinned, just as Adam and Eve did. And just like with them, Christ offers us covenants to bless us, despite our imperfections. It’s a reminder to me that I don’t have to be perfect to merit his love. That He and Father knew I was going to make mistakes and counseled about it before the world was created and prepared a way to save all of us. And the only ones who can’t be saved are those who, like Satan, simply refuse it. We all can enter the celestial glory despite our sins.
I love the fact that agency is so central to the story. And that God knew in some things we’d choose poorly.
Some might like a different symbolism where sins are removed. That’s fine. I like the idea of persisting to the end in a journey with a wonderful end, a patient line-upon-line journey. And that someone with failings, like me, through Christ, enters in.
The apron resonates with the idea of agency.
In the past there have been times when I’ve been distracted, frustrated, and questioned all sorts of things with the temple ceremony. But I’m very happy with how it’s going now. It’s inspired me to be a better husband, father, a better person. The experience has given me a peaceful, joyful nudges. I’ve very happy with it, despite ongoing questions.
@Holly: “I have had many friends (sadly) leave their religious faiths, but it seems only Latter-Day Saints care enough to stick around and blog, gossip, speculate, comment, rehash, reassign, and reassault those who simply enjoy their religion.” Huh. I just spent a few minutes googling. It appears that Leah Remini has written a book and produced a show on leaving Scientology. Amber Scorah wrote a book about leaving Jehovah’s Witness. Trying to avoid links, my quick google search brought up numerous blogs and articles about people leaving Catholicism. There appear to be subreddits about leaving virtually every religion. Literally google “leaving [Religion X]” and you’ll see it. Pretty easy exercise if you are sincere about what you wrote.
I’m reading, reading, skimming, reading, skimming, skipping, skimping LOL…. if I have it right, everyone commenting here is North American Caucasian, is that right? (Yup, me too; of “pioneer stock” who literally came across the plains…) In 2006 I spent 5 fascinating weeks in South Africa on a health research trip – a place I’d always wanted to see since my Uncle’s stories of serving there as a young missionary (and later as Mission Pres.). What a totally different culture. Some didn’t know where my homeland of Canada was. Sometimes my “accent” wasn’t understood – I couldn’t even order food alone, just had to point. We just don’t understand that North America, for many, many millions of people, is NOT the center of the universe!
More recently, first as a widow in 2015, then later remarried, I spent 2 years in the Caribbean on Church missions. Many people there will only attend the temple once, some mostly paid for by the One Time Temple Patron Assistance Fund. Even then many members there sacrifice greatly just to buy (then eventually replace) their own temple garments, buy food for the trip, etc. The new temple film, which I’ve only seen once so far, seems to me, to be just for them, and my friends in Africa. I could’ve cried from gratitude. (Well, OK, I did). Beautifully simple. All explained and laid out, nothing to have to remember from a possible temple trip 25 years ago (for the lucky ones).
It’s not all about us, folks! We truly are a worldwide church now. Get on board or don’t, it’s happening!
@jacalyn it is too bad that your judgey, self-righteous tone actually detracts from a good point you make: that making things more explanatory may be better for people who attend infrequently.
Thanks for that insight, but if you truly want to engage here next time you could make that point without insulting everyone who’s commented. By the way, many of us (myself included) have in fact spent a lot of time in other countries wheee temple attendance is more difficult.
The temple, the covenants I make there, and every single thing I am taught in the temple are absolutely sacred to me. I have questions, but I also know that I am not smart enough or spiritual enough to know better than the prophet, or know better than God. I have perfect trust that as I keep my mind and spirit open to light and truth, I will continue to be taught until all is clear, and it will be more beautiful and holy than my own small thoughts and ideas could have ever conjured up. As I participated in the new endowment session, I couldn’t stop the tears. I felt so happy. The gospel and the temple bring me abundant peace and radiant joy. Peace and joy that fill me completely up. I wouldn’t trade it for anything this world has to offer.
I’m a convert since high school and went through the ceremony when I got married in 1976. There was no temple prep then. I had no family to help me. I bought a wedding dress with sheer sleeves, not knowing it was a little unacceptable. They gave me one-piece garments that had long sleeves and long legs! I felt weird.
In the ceremony I was shocked at the collared minister in the movie. I was more shocked that I had to covenant to OBEY my husband. The motions of how my life would be taken if I revealed anything was just so cultish. And the last thing was the 5 points of fellowship. Very cringey.
I never felt the spirit there. I’ve tried! Over the last 45+ years I have tolerated the temple. I never said to my husband: “let’s go!” My recommend expired in 2020 and I decided not to renew it.
Of course I’ve learned about Masonry and Joseph Smith over the years. The biggest improvement I’ve read about is the informed consent. That actually should be included in temple prep classes. I used to teach that class and after a few years I decided to include the covenants they will make.
I had one couple call me and say they didn’t want more lessons. I never saw them at church again. I felt really bad, but better they know before they are there. And I only touched lightly on the covenants!
At this point I will never go to the temple again. I feel sad because I loved the idea of eternal family. I did family history for 40 years and loved it. So I went from accepting it and not liking it to not accepting it and hating it.