8 Comments

  1. C Jones

    My son who is leaving on a mission just went through the temple this week. Before he went, we had a FHE lesson that included pictures and information about ancient temple worship from this site. I found it very helpful in preparing him for the endowment without feeling like I was being inappropriately revealing.
    He had a great experience. He found some things surprising, and was a little overwhelmed by so much new information, but we had told him before he went that he wasn’t expected to memorize everything or to instantly grasp the symbolic significance of everything, and just to try to generally get the big picture of what was being presented, and so he was able to relax and enjoy the spirit there relatively stress-free.
    Thank you so much for this site! My husband and I have taught temple prep classes before, but the practical information you have here is a great and helpful addition to what is covered in those manuals.

  2. Thank you. I’m glad that my comments could be of service in appropriately helping your son have a better understanding about temple history in preparation to receiving his endowment.

    I too think I found the ritual experience impressive my first time, and the immense amount of information was tremendous to take all in. But I think it is meant to be that way. It is meant to be a life-changing experience. It is meant to leave an impression, whether that impression is good or bad I think depends on your mindset, the Spirit that you’ve sought for, and preparation. It is for this reason that the Church encourages a serious study of the temple and introduction to symbolism, ordinances, scripture, and history before attending, as well as spiritual preparation in prayer and fasting. But even with this, all will not be understood on our first few visits; on the contrary, it may take a lifetime of study. I commend you for your foresight in preparing your son.

    What I love about the temple is that there is always more to learn in the Lord’s “university.”

  3. Matt W.

    I find that some people might find the temple troubling for one of several reasons:

    – The symbolic clothing has limited explication. This is somewhat resolved by turning to Old Testament scriptures regarding the priesthood vestments of the Levites.
    [edit]
    – The physical ritual activities symbolically done. These have been partly [edit] aided by an explanation of their mnemonic value.
    [edit]

    One risk I see in your response is that someone who has a concern may be put of if they are simply dismissed by being told they are “worldly.”

  4. Thanks Matt. I think you’re right that these differences might cause some misunderstanding and concern. I don’t think that people who have a concern are being “told that they are ‘worldly,'” but that the ordinances themselves are not worldly, and therefore cannot be understood from our common secular and mundane point-of-view, of which we all partake daily and are so accustomed. The temple requires us to think on a completely different level and in a completely different context than we are used to, namely heavenly and godly, and some may be more or less inclined to be able to adjust to that unfamiliar form of pedagogy.

    And sorry for the edits, but I don’t allow direct references to the history of the endowment. I know that line is drawn differently for each individual, but as the editor here I have set boundaries for what I will allow.

  5. Ferreira

    Troubled is a broad word: troubled to question an already established testimony and wonder if any of it is true. . . or troubled by the teaching manners and methods which seem strange, unfamiliar, and unexpected….

    Someone who finds the experience troubling should not feel alone. Don’t feel like “everyone gets it but me” because that’s not the truth. We don’t often relate personal feelings on the temple publicly at church, so it may feel awkward to broach the subject even in private conversations. Be patient. It may feel embarrassing, but it is important to overcome those feelings and ask for help, counsel, advice. Be honest and speak with a parent, bishop, spouse, home teacher. Not knowing how these people feel about the temple, seek people that you think have firm testimonies. Maybe you serve with another ward member and can make time alone to talk (e.g. home/visiting teaching partner while carpooling to visit someone). Some people you approach might not feel comfortable talking about it. Don’t give up, find someone else. You may just get someone who says, “I totally know what you mean. This is what I’ve learned that helped me.”

    Pray, ask, knock, seek. Seeking includes attending the temple, and do it often enough that it becomes familiar. Even if you don’t understand it, knowing that the unfamiliar/troubling exists allows you to make connections through reason and revelation later.

    This is my story:

    I remember my first visit to the temple. I definitely had to look back to my testimony that had been established before entering the temple and have faith that the temple must somehow fit with the familiar Sunday and personal religious observances.

    I had completed 2 years at a university before being endowed and expected that the “Lord’s university” would use similar methodologies: sit in class, listen to an instructor, take notes, ask questions, etc. Maybe I expected the temple to be like Sunday school: an instructor with opportunity for Q&A. The Lord’s teaching methods in the temple took me by surprise. It is a different, more holy place and utilizes methods that require more of the initiate: more holiness, more sacrifice, more patience, more knocking, searching, seeing, hearing, etc. I now see that in this way, the initiate is given what he/she has asked for and can bear. Interestingly, I am working on obtaining a teaching credential and am constantly finding that pedagogical best practices as identified by modern research are expertly applied in the temple (also add the Spirit, not covered in my text books).

    My best friend was endowed the day before I was. We got together and both said, “I don’t know what I can and can’t say, so I won’t say anything. But that was different!” It was good to have shared the experience with my friend, but also frustrating that I didn’t know how I could talk about it. I had read Pres. Packer’s book but wasn’t aware of any other reliable books. My mom’s philosophy on the temple was don’t talk about anything to anybody, anywhere. I felt somewhat alone, trying to figure it out all by myself. With the Spirit too, but it is challenging to get and understand communication with the Spirit (I now see that it’s supposed to be that way, the whole “ears to hear” thing).

    A year ago, I prayed to understand more about the temple. I had gone many times but was frustrated with many things. Shortly after that, I saw the Ensign and was prompted to read it . . . there was an article about gospel symbols. As I read it, the Spirit whispered to me a truth taught in the temple which I hadn’t understood before. “Wow! I get it now!” Then, “I forgot I prayed about this last month!” That set me in motion. I then came across an article by Hugh Nibley which opened my eyes to many good sources that appropriately deal with temple topics. The next phase was the realization that many temple themes are taught in the scriptures. For some reason, I had not seen the adamant link between scriptures and temple. Some links were obvious, but I wasn’t looking for more links. I had not knocked nor had eyes to see it. For the past several weeks, I have been taking notes during Gospel Doctrine class, amazed that significant truths taught in the temple are also expertly taught in the Book of Mormon. I also talk with my wife either at home or in the celestial room, depending on the topic.

    I now feel much better about temple worship. I have a testimony that temple worship is of God. I am comforted to know by experience that I can obtain answers to my questions.
    -Ferriera

  6. Mark Greene

    At the dedication of the Los Angeles Temple in 1956 President McKay, while speaking to local Church leaders said in reference to his niece who regarded her initiation into a sorority superior in effect and meaning to her temple endowment,

    “Brothers and sisters, she was disappointed in the Temple. Brothers and sisters, I was disappointed in the Temple and so were you. There are few, even temple workers who comprehend the full meaning and power of the Temple endowment. Seen for what it is, it is the step-by-step ascent into the eternal presence. If our young people could but glimpse it, it would be the most powerful spiritual motivation in their lives!”

    At age 91 while addressing general authorities about the temple endowment President McKay said, “Brethren, I think I am finally beginning to understand.”

    Since most ancient Middle Eastern civilization centered around temples as a source of knowledge and power, it is wise counsel for modern man to make the effort, even life long, to learn what they knew, especially if a God’s true temple is upon the earth today.

  7. Mark Greene

    PS: The key to understanding the temple is in understanding the scriptures. As Joseph Smith said, “The burden of the scriptures is the temple.”

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