1. Tanya S.

    People being disrespectful in holy space (whether it is holy to me or not) is one of my pet peeves. Drives me insane. Last year I got to travel a bit in Europe. I adore beautiful cathedrals and other churches and mosques, so tried to visit a lot of them. Most people would whisper and act respectfully, but some people… didn’t. I wanted to smack them. Once I gave a dirty look and shushed someone who was actually yelling to his friend to come over to him, but it didn’t do any good. He didn’t care that he was being a jerk.

    I enjoy holy space in general and find it fascinating, but I have a more selfish reason for wanting people to treat those spaces respectfully: if enough people don’t, the beautiful cathedrals, etc., will be closed off to the public, and that would be terribly sad (though understandable).

  2. Bryce:

    Good points. I think on this from time to time. Here are some of the problems as I see it:

    1.) Many are just profane, on both sides of the river. They don’t care about others and don’t consider other people as their brothers and sisters. They like to insult them. Or they just really don’t care. People who are holy care about sacred things, that is the definition of holiness. Even if the other person is misguided, if something is holy to them, a decent person respects that.

    2.) People often take disagreement as attack. We can love, honor and respect others and disagree with them. And they with us. This idea is often muddled in the minds of some. Many people demand consensus or they feel attacked. We can disagree, and at a minimum be civil.

    3.) I like to intellectually mix it up with others from time to time. It helps me keep sharp, and perhaps enlighten someone else along the way. But, people need to learn how to do this within the bounds of propriety,

    4.) If we are going to discuss these things, we can’t be to thin skinned. It is hard to have a substantive debate on these things, with any amount of volume, and put everything into a flowery setting. Two people who can vigorously debate without being offended can really benefit each other. Those who are easily offended stifle real communication. If we can’t say a murderer needs to repent, how can we ever discuss the finer points of the gospel?

    These these are some of the things I have had to learn along the way, especially in the blog world.


  3. I’d suggest that the key isn’t so much to “hold sacred” what others consider sacred, as it is to hold other people as “sacred.”

    For example, I am no longer LDS, and I no longer consider LDS garments to be “sacred.” At the same time, however, I’m well aware of the feelings of LDS members who do hold LDS garments as sacred. As such, I’m disgusted when I see that protesters outside Temple Square make a public show of attempting to “desecrate” LDS garments. Behavior like that only demonstrates that these people lack basic respect and compassion for their fellow beings–hardly a trait which encourages me to adopt their religious teachings.

  4. Certainly. I don’t think we need to hold sacred that which others hold sacred, in a worship kind of way, but we should treat others and their sacred emblems, beliefs, and practices with respect and reverence. For example, I don’t personally hold Buddha as sacred, but I certainly wouldn’t profane Buddhism, demean a sacred Buddhist text, or desecrate a Buddhist temple. It’s just not a charitable and Christ-like thing to do.

    A person’s regard for anything sacred can be determined by the way they treat the sacred things of others.

  5. Reed Russell

    Krister Stendahl’s three rules of interfaith dialogue come into play here:

    “let the other define herself (‘Don’t think you know the other without listening’);
    compare equal to equal (not my positive qualities to the negative ones of the other);
    and find beauty in the other so as to develop ‘holy envy.'”


    Bishop Stendahl explains this beautifully in the “Between Heaven and Earth” video.

  6. If Protestants had a secret ceremony where we called your bishops hirlings of Satan (much like former LDS ceremony), what would you think if I said it was too ’sacred’ to talk about?

  7. Aaron,

    First, do you deny that such clerical hirlings exist in Christianity? Is this not priestcraft?

    Second, our bishops are not hired. They are not paid a dime in their service in the Church.

    Third, if Protestants had such a ceremony that they held sacred, and did not want to talk about, I would honor that belief. I would not profane it in the way you choose to do with ours. I would respect their right to worship in private the way they please, and not seek to “expose” their worship practices in the most desecrated manner (cf. A of F 11). That is just not a humane or Christian thing to do.

  8. UtahRez

    You know, this really becomes nothing more than hypocritical tripe when you consider that millions of Christians hold a very high regard for the creeds of their faith. Yet, I don’t recall the LDS Church refraining from quoting the First Vision comment that calls them an abomination. Apostle Jeffrey Holland had no problem blasting the doctrine of the Trinity in conference recently. Millions of Christians hold these things very sacred. Anybody on this blog going to complain about that or are double standards OK here?

  9. UtahRez,

    Are there not many Christians that hold a very high regard for the LDS Church? I think there are. Some of our Evangelical brothers and sisters do not, however, and this is disturbing. But this is not just limited to Christianity, but also with regard to the sacred of all religions and cultures. How would you treat that which is holy in a Buddhist temple? Or a Muslim shrine? Or a Jewish synagogue?

    Elder Holland’s address in Conference about the nature of God was not an attack on the Trinity, but a defense of our position as Christians. His point was that we can still be Christians and not believe in the orthodox view of the Trinity. A belief in the mainstream model of the Trinity is not a prerequisite to be a Christian, although our belief in the Godhead is similar to it. A belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world is the prerequisite to be considered a Christian. Elder Holland made this very clear:

    It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion. We extend to all the same respect for their doctrine that we are asking for ours. (That, too, is an article of our faith.) But if one says we are not Christians because we do not hold a fourth- or fifth-century view of the Godhead, then what of those first Christian Saints, many of whom were eyewitnesses of the living Christ, who did not hold such a view either?

    We declare it is self-evident from the scriptures that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are separate persons, three divine beings, noting such unequivocal illustrations as the Savior’s great Intercessory Prayer just mentioned, His baptism at the hands of John, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration, and the martyrdom of Stephen—to name just four.

    We do not refrain from believing that the LDS Church is the only true and living church upon the face of the earth (D&C 1:30), and that all other sects are in error. We believe that all of the sects of Christiandom have portions of the truth, and do many honorable and good things in service to their society and their communities and in bringing people closer to God. But even the Apostle Paul preached one faith and one baptism (Eph. 4:5). We do not seek to tear down other faiths, demean them, destroy their beliefs, desecrate all they hold holy, and profane their most sacred worship practices. This just is not a Christ-like thing to do. We teach and preach our own truths. We believe there is much good in other denominations, and we would like to add to it.

  10. Bryce, I think you understand the spirit of the question. I’ll modify it to help bring clarity:

    If Protestants had a secret ceremony where we called your prophet and apostles hirlings of Satan, what would you think if I said it was too ’sacred’ to talk about?

    By saying that you would choose to not to expose a ceremony that others hold as sacred, regardless of its content, you disobey scripture. If a ceremony is shameful, you have a biblical duty to expose it.

    “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. ” (Ephesians 5:11–12)

    Was the Holy Spirit irresponsible in inspiring Paul to write this?

    When people often tell me they wouldn’t have joined Mormonism if they had known what goes on in the temple, it only reinforces for me the fact that it is humane and Christian to help investigators make choices with more heplful information.

  11. Aaron,

    You didn’t answer my questions, but I will try to answer yours.

    Again, our prophets and apostles are not hired. They are called to do the work. They receive no profit from what they do. They receive only a living stipend because they spend all their time preaching the gospel, but they are not spending their worth on the fine goods of the world. They do not deck themselves with spacious mansions or exquisite cars while dodging tax laws as some Christian preachers I know have done. Is not such self-aggrandizement priestcraft?

    If Protestants had such a secret ceremony and believed that it was too sacred to talk about openly with others, I would respect that belief. Why would that affect me? They do it in secret. Why would I seek to desecrate their worship practices because of that? Sure, we would oppose it and disagree with that statement in their ceremony, but we would not desecrate all their beliefs in the public square because of it. It’s not a kind thing to do.

    I’m not sure what translation of the Bible you use, but the King James Version reads:

    And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. (Eph. 5:11–12)

    The word translated as “reprove” is from the Greek elegcho, and can mean many different things including to convict, refute, confute, find fault with, correct, reprehend, chide, admonish, reprove, chasten, and punish. Some translations have chosen to translate it as “expose,” but the Greek was not translated thus anywhere in the KJV. Most often it was translated as reprove, rebuke, or convince. This rebuke is to be directed at the people doing the “works of darkness” not at the works themselves, “for it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.” How do you admonish or chasten a work? You can’t; you reprove those doing it. If you truly believe our ceremonies are works of darkness, then why are you speaking of them? Should it not be shameful for you to do so? Instead you seek to publicize our supposed “dark” practices, something which Paul clearly did not say but warned against. Paul was inspired to write this scripture, but your understanding of it is fundamentally flawed.

    I know a great many more people, perhaps millions, who are members of the Church and believe the temple is the ultimate form of Christian worship, including myself.

  12. Elder Holland’s address in Conference about the nature of God was not an attack on the Trinity, but a defense of our position as Christians.

    Actually, if you wanted to be more accurate, it was a defense and an attack at the same time. He didn’t merely state a positive reason for what Mormons believe, he also stated an alleged negative reason why one shouldn’t believe what traditional Christians believe.

    Holland is simply being passive-aggressive by prefacing with, “It is not our purpose to demean any person’s belief nor the doctrine of any religion.” Saying that, and then attempting to tear down the notion of the Trinity, is still an attack.

    Try saying this to your wife sometime: “Honey, I don’t mean to criticize your cooking, but I think this meal tastes like cardboard.” Do you think your preface really negates the fact that you’ve torn down and criticized her cooking?


  13. The only negative reason that could be gathered from Elder Holland’s address that one should not believe in orthodox Trinitarianism is because it does not appear true from the historical record. I don’t believe that is a horrendous attack. But it is a firm belief of ours that Christ has taught today, as He did during His mortal sojourn, that the Godhead consists of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, all separate and distinct beings, but all one in the same redemptive purpose and mission.

    How should we treat those beliefs we have which do not agree with mainstream Christianity? Should we not teach our own doctrine? I believe we can do so and still respect each others beliefs, even if we do not agree with them.

  14. UtahRez

    “Bryce, then I guess its all about semantics. As long as a person says he means no foul, that is OK. It still offends nonetheless. Do you give the same latitude to Evangelicals who also claim the same thing? Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm supporter of free speech and I don’t think anyone has a right not to be offended. I just think the posters here are being a tad hypocricital. Call the Christian creeds an abomination if that is what you believe, but don’t whine when you find the sacred things of Mormonism being challenged. You ask, “How would you treat that which is holy in a Buddhist temple? Or a Muslim shrine? Or a Jewish synagogue?” I would certainly never desecrate their building or interupt their services, and in many ways I would tend to agree with Tanya when it comes to behavior in their buildings, but I don’t think anything religious is so sacred that a self imposed censorship should prevail. Ideologies need to be discussed and to say some things should be off the table because they tend to offend quite frankly offends me to the core; but hey, express your opinion to your hearts content, just don’t be hypocritical about it. You can say you don’t like it, but to say it is “unchristian” strikes many thinking people as nothing less than absurd. Christianity has been offending people since Jesus walked the earth.

  15. UtahRez,

    How easily we take offense these days. Can we not state our belief in the Godhead without people fearing we’ve “attacked” mainstream Christianity or “offended” anyone? Can we not have civil dialogue where we explain our differences of belief in order to understand one another better? Can we not let our emotions subside and not go on the offense whenever anyone says anything that is different than our personal beliefs? Can we not recognize our differences of opinion and grow together as a society instead of ripping each other apart and destroying one another’s faith?

    You said, “but I don’t think anything religious is so sacred that a self imposed censorship should prevail.” Then I don’t believe you know what sacred means, for if you personally held anything sacred, you would not want it blasted into the public scene. Not desecrating a Buddhist temple or interrupting a Muslim service means that you hold a certain amount of respect for that thing which others believe is sacred. Yes, ideologies do need to be discussed, but even scholars recognize that there are lines of propriety that are not to be crossed when analyzing anything that someone else holds in the most sublime holiness. It is called goodwill, a conscience, loving thy neighbor, grace, and charity, traits that come naturally to most people for we are all born into this world with the light of Christ (John 1:9).

    Even Christ himself told his disciples to not tell others of certain sacred teachings and practices (Matt. 8:4; Matt. 16:20; Matt. 17:9; Mark 7:36; Mark 8:30; Mark 9:9; Luke 5:14; Luke 8:56; Luke 9:21). Holding certain things sacred seems very Christian to me.

  16. So you guys believe you have the divine prerogative like Jesus to withhold information from people about life and salvation and things that help a person have a better relationship with God?

    If that’s not arrogant, I don’t know what is. I’ll stick with Deuteronomy 29:29:

    “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

  17. No. We have the divine prerogative from Jesus, just as His disciples did of old, to keep those things sacred that He has entrusted to us to keep sacred. Anyone who is willing and worthy can also partake of these sacred things, if they prepare themselves according to the commandments of God (Matt. 7:6).

  18. “Can we not recognize our differences of opinion and grow together as a society instead of ripping each other apart and destroying one another’s faith?”

    Can’t you see the utter hypocrisy of this? Mormon missionaries go to the doors of my fellow Christians every day and attempt to replace nearly all their distinctive beliefs. Our belief in the Trinity is ripped apart, our belief in justification by faith alone is ripped apart, our belief in the obsoleteness of the Aaronic priesthood is ripped apart, our belief in the reliability of the Bible is ripped apart. All those things are sacred to us and yet your missionaries attempt to replace them with things we find heretical and abhorrent and profane. Sure, the missionaries do it with a soft voice and a smile, but it is what it is.

    If you want to stop ripping apart Protestant teachings, then stop sending missionaries out to teach of the “Great Apostasy” and of the “Restoration” which calls all our creeds an “abomination”.

    Listen, I have Mormon friends that get along with me, but few things are more offensive and disrespectful than a passive-aggressive, hypocritical view of religious criticism. I liked Mormonism better in the days when political correctness wasn’t a beloved golden calf. Just put your claims and criticisms out on the open table and stop pretending to take a supposed moral high ground. The Mormon friends I have who I best get along with, who I best know as honest, forthright, and respectful, put all their cards out on the table.

  19. Aaron,

    No. I don’t see hypocrisy in this. Paul taught that the fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal. 5:22–23). We try to emulate those good fruits. Yes, we send out missionaries to teach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, but we do it with the Spirit. If people don’t like it, they can politely refuse our message and we will be on our way. I know, I experienced it many times on my own mission. We don’t ever cram our beliefs down others’ throats, or rip apart others’ faith in the process. That is not what Christ has counseled us to do. There may be missionaries that try to do that, but I wouldn’t, and I think the majority of missionaries don’t do that. It serves no purpose, whatsoever. If you don’t like what we teach, then we will thank you and move on. That is much different than the force-feeding you’re expressing, where we “replace” teachings that people find “heretical” and “abhorrent” and “profane.” I don’t know of anyone who would sit through a discussion with the missionaries if they truly had that view.

    I might add that all there is that separates us is “distinctive beliefs.” We all believe in the same basics of Christianity, namely in Jesus Christ, that He is the Savior of the world, that He atoned for our sins, that we can repent of our sins and be forgiven, that He died on the cross for us, was resurrected on the third day, and ascended into heaven with a promise of return to rule and reign. These are not the beliefs that differentiate us. We tend to make mountains out of mole hills.

    Also, I don’t think your fellow Christians would have any objection to a belief in the Aaronic priesthood, since they probably haven’t heard of it before, again from experience on my mission. Only certain of our critics believe in the “obsoleteness of the Aaronic priesthood.”

    Who are your Mormon friends? I’d like to get to know them.

  20. I believe in free speech, and think that it is good to know things up front. It just appears that we are comparing apples to oranges here. I don’t know if there is anything that Aaron holds sacred enough that he would not like disclosed. It’s not my position to speak on his behalf and so won’t presume to do so. Until he has something like the temple ordinances that he holds sacred enough, I don’t think that there will be an understanding.

    As a follow up point, I have great respect for Muslims and for Muhammad. Some of my best friends are Muslims and I enjoy going to mosques. That doesn’t mean that I can’t think that it is not true nor speak about why I think it is wrong. I think that it is a matter of showing respect when doing it, that’s all.

    But again, until there is something that outsider’s have in comparison, I don’t know if there will be an understanding. I think a muslim would understand the idea better as Mecca serves a similar function.

  21. UtahRez

    Bryce, I see you missed my point entirely. You wrote:

    “Can we not let our emotions subside and not go on the offense whenever anyone says anything that is different than our personal beliefs? ”

    Can you? Can other Mormons? Latter-day Saints tend to allow themselves the right to complain when people challenge their “sacred space,” but always find a way to justify themselves when they invade another’s. Again, don’t misunderstand. I am defending wholeheartedly your right to invade, complain, and critique. I am not offended at all by that aspect. My personal beliefs are not so frail that I feel the need to silence those who do not share my worldview. What offends me personally is when a Mormon (or any religious person), publicly makes truth-claims and then cries foul when a person or persons with an opposing view challenges them on their position. Perhaps you can explain how a person who finds the endowment ceremony to be extremely troubling should express those feelings.

  22. UtahRez,

    Addressing doctrinal distinctions in belief is a colossal leap from defaming and desecrating what others hold sacred. They are not nearly on the same plane in interfaith dialogue, if you can even call the latter such. But it does not surprise me that you would equate them since it seems as though you don’t believe in anything as sacred as we do the temple, so it is hard for you to imagine the difference. I’m sorry that this is so. I believe that you probably do have very many things in your life that you hold very sacred, but you probably don’t recognize them – e.g. your family, your relationships, your scriptures, your home, your property, your freedom, etc. I believe you would be quite disturbed if any of those things in your life were suddenly and rudely profaned, defamed, desecrated, and exposed to public use and scrutiny. You don’t try to challenge us on opposing views but you attempt to lay bare the holy vessels of the Lord. That is not dialogue or critique or debate; it is careless libel and selfish aspersion.

    How would a person express their feelings who finds the endowment ceremony troubling? I think that would depend on if they are a member of the Church or not. If not, I’m not sure why something that we do in the sacred seclusion and confines of the temple should disturb such a person at all since they don’t participate in it, and it in no way affects their way of life or beliefs. If it truly disturbs such a person, a careful inventory and analysis of how external influences affect their life might be in order. If they are a member of the Church, then I believe an education in the history of temples since the beginning of time might be good counsel, since such worship practices, rituals, and liturgies have been in existence since the world began. The Lord’s ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8–9). The things of God and His temples are not the way of the world, and are starkly in contrast with mundane trivialities. This could potentially strike new temple-goers as odd or different. But such ceremonies have always stood out in distinctiveness from the rest of the world. The earliest Christian initiations were likewise extraordinary, and for a divine purpose. Edward Yarnold, a research lecturer at Oxford University, has written about the early Christian liturgy thus:

    ‘The awe-inspiring rites’ – the words recur several times in these pages. Without being unfaithful to the Greek, I might have called this book ‘The Spine-chilling Rites of Initiation.’ It takes the form of a collection of sermons, all preached about the second half of the fourth century, explaining the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and Holy Communion by which a Christian became a full member of the Church. The ceremonies took place at night some of them in the dark, after weeks of intense preparation; they were wrapped in secrecy, and the candidate knew little about them until just before, or even after, he had receive them. Everything was calculated to inspire religious awe, to make these rites the occasion of a profound and life-long conversion. (Edward Yarnold, The Awe-Inspiring Rites of Initiation, ix.)

    Prayerful and scriptural introspection and study would be valuable to any temple-going Latter-day Saint to consider to know if the temple is really the Lord’s House. Discussion with a bishop, teacher, friend, or family member about such feelings might also help. Generally, the more one knows the ways of the Lord, the more the temple fits perfectly into His model of the eternities and the more one recognizes the profound blessing it is to worship and serve in the temple.

    This thread has been enlightening, and further evidence of the original point of my post. Thanks to all.

  23. I re-submit my earlier comment:

    2.) People often take disagreement as attack. We can love, honor and respect others and disagree with them. And they with us. This idea is often muddled in the minds of some. Many people demand consensus or they feel attacked. We can disagree, and at a minimum be civil.

    A missionary at a door offering his religion is not “ripping ” anything that person has. And as a “Christian ” how could we avoid the great commission to preach to the world? The JW’s visit my home on a regular basis; I don’t feel they are ripping anything I believe; I am still intact when they go. People have become way too thinned skinned.


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