10 Reasons to Remove your Watch When You Enter the Temple

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Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord. -Elder Richard G. Scott

This last weekend in General Conference, Elder Richard G. Scott gave an incredibly good talk about the temple and the importance of temple attendance.  I will break down more of this talk in a future post to glean more from the great insight he gave us.

One of his “interesting suggestions” for gaining more benefit from temple attendance was this — “Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord.”  I immediately took notice of this counsel, as you might have also.  I have not heard the General Authorities recommend this before.  I did find it “interesting” because it is something that I have already practiced since the first time I went to the temple.  It didn’t feel right for me to wear that piece of apparel into the sacred space.

But how could something as trivial as wearing a watch affect what we gain from the temple?  While it is unlikely we can easily know why Elder Scott counseled us so, let me offer some personal reasons why I don’t wear my watch when I enter the temple, and why it might be a good idea for you too.

1. It’s a distraction

This is probably one of the biggest reasons why I do not wear my watch into the temple.  It doesn’t fit in that sacred place.  Watches are usually big, dark, and bulky, and don’t belong in the environment around us.  They are completely at odds with the symbolism we are immersed in.  When I see others wearing watches, it is a distraction to me, because it immediately draws my attention and focus away from where it should be, on the ordinance work, and learning the deeper meanings of the kingdom.

2. The temple is a timeless place

We go to the temple to get away from the world and it’s preoccupations.  We should not be worried about the passage of time, which can so quickly take us back mentally to the world from which we have left.  We should give time to consider our place in the universe, the progress of our lives, and improving the quality of our character.  Which leads us to reason #3.

3. A watch reminds us of the world

A watch reminds us what is on the outside of the temple when we should be paying heed to what is on the inside, and what is being taught to us.  A glance at a watch could easily remind us of the cares of a job, needs of a business, responsibilities, commitments, worldly struggles, whereas we are to not concern ourselves with those things while at the temple.  The temple should be a refuge from the storms in our lives, a place of peace, somewhere we go to get answers to our problems, not to be reminded of them.  A wristwatch can mix the profane with the sacred, which is an impossibility to begin with.

4. Time does not exist for God

At least not in the conventional sense.  D&C 130:7 notes that the “past, present, and future . . . are continually before the Lord.”  It also teaches that those who inherit the earth and the presence of God will likewise experience time in this continual fashion.  This is incomprehensible to us, being so inseparably connected to the passage of time in mortality.  But time is a very different concept to God.  Somehow he is transcendent to the passage of time.  Since we are striving to become like our Heavenly Parents, a watch does not fit within the pedagogical model of the temple.  A watch belongs in a different world.

5. Going without strict time commitments

Another of Elder Scott’s interesting suggestions was “Leave sufficient time to be unhurried within the temple walls. Rotate activities so that you can participate in all of the ordinances of the temple.” We should try to stay in the temple to ponder and pray instead of being rushed to meet another demands outside the temple walls.  There is so much work to be done in the temple, and Latter-day Saints “who live in the shadow of a temple” are those who can carry it out.

6. It is not temple clothing

We don’t wear other non-temple paraphernalia while in the temple for many of these same reasons.  Eyeglasses are a requisite item in order to gain as much from the temple experience as we can.  Wedding rings also fit within the symbolism of what we are in the temple.  But watches are unnecessary and extracurricular, in my opinion.

7. There are other clocks

We can check the time if we really need to know it.  There are small clocks positioned in various parts of the temple.  Or, you could just ask one of the temple workers.  I don’t believe there is a clock in the Celestial Room, perhaps for these same reasons.

8. It could interrupt a service

Many watches have alarms, “Indigo” lights, and other things that could interrupt a service.  Again, our full focus should be on what we are doing, and trying to be in tune with the Spirit so that the mysteries of God can be unfolded before us.  What we experience in the temple can’t be fully understood in a lifetime of attendance.  We shouldn’t shortchange the time we have to gain as much as we can from what the Lord has to offer.

9. We all dress the same

Allan K. Burgess once wrote:

. . . dressing alike symbolizes that all of us are equal in the sight of God. The rich and the poor, the educated and the unlearned, the boss and the worker, the General Authority and the new Church member all sit side by side in the temple and are of equal importance to the Lord. 1

Hugh Nibley also once said:

Does sameness depress you? The heavenly hosts, so we are told, all wear the same simple white garment—how monotonous! We all dress alike in the temple. Are you depressed to be there? No, the difference is in the person himself. It shines through as the individual spirit. The Father and the Son glowed exactly alike. Why doesn’t one wear black and the other wear green or something like that? No. It is the outward sameness that allows inward sameness, the spirit, to shine through. Such monotony is put to shame by the multibillion-dollar fashion industry of our times. The difference is that in heaven it is the individual spirit that shines through. What do we see in the temple, when we are all dressed alike? We must go out to the parking lot to assert our individuality in Mercedes, Cadillacs, and so forth. And which is the more depressing picture? The gaudy display of vanity fair is an attempt to cover up the spiritual and intellectual barrenness of the present world we live in.2

Watches can set us apart from one another, which is not what the temple teaches us.  We should not let vanity fair into the temple.

10. Elder Scott has suggested for us to do so

Some will say that this is insufficient reason, in and of itself.  But I don’t believe so.  I don’t think to pray over every item of counsel that leaves the lips of the Lord’s anointed servants in order to believe in it and do it.  If it makes sense, I do it, and I know I will be blessed.  I think this is a really good suggestion from Elder Scott, and when it comes from an Apostle of Jesus Christ I believe it is even more important that we pay attention to it.  It almost felt like Elder Scott was pleading with us to do so when he said it.

What other reasons can you think of that we might want to remove our watches when we enter the House of the Lord?  What else can be a distraction from our sacred worship there?  Anything else that we might want to be aware of as we enter the sacred space?

Notes:
  1. Allan K. Burgess, Teens, Temple Marriage, and Eternity, Deseret Book Company, 1988, 91. []
  2. Hugh Nibley, Don E. Norton, Approaching Zion, Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co. & FARMS, 1989, 443-444. []

11 Comments

  1. Posted April 10, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

    11. My watch is my cellular phone.

    Thanks, Bryce. This is timely advice.

  2. elizabeth-w
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

    I went this AM, and due to a wedding party, the 9:30 session was full. I could have waited for the 10, but would have been watching the clock the whole time–I’d worry I would miss picking up my kindergartner in time. I tried to do some other work, but all workers were otherwise engaged. :( But I don’t wear my watch, either. I want to be able to spend time without feeling rushed.
    As an aside, and a person who is only recently endowed, I would note that among women, there are some who appear way more equal than others. Do you know how much money some women spend on dresses?! I think you could expand this idea to not just watches but women’s jewelry, too.

  3. Posted April 11, 2009 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    This is a great post! I agree with the suggestion. I second the “indiglow” mention. In the past, I have seen many of these glows (including handheld devices, and even texting). Once we enter the temple, it is imperative that we leave the world behind, and everything that connects to it. Not only should we be doing this for our sake, but all of our other brothers and sisters joining us.

  4. TARA
    Posted April 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I have the privilege of being an ordained temple worker, and ironically the ONLY place I wear a watch is in the temple. It helps me get to where I need to be on time to serve others there. That said, I love being there as a patron without my watch and to just be at rest and to ponder, to learn and to pray.

  5. Dan Knudsen
    Posted April 11, 2009 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    Having been a set apart temple worker for more than 19 years, my watch is essential for me to do I need to do, and to be where I should be serving. The only time I remove it is when I’m doing the veil demo, as that could be distracting. When I’m a patron my watch doesn’t bother me because I know what I’m doing and have allotted the time needed so that I don’t have to worry about anything else–it doesn’t exist for awhile. I understand that for some, wearing a watch could be a distraction. I agree with Elder Scott about the need for not worrying about the time, or being distracted by any worldly cares–whether you remove your watch or not. Whatever works for you.

  6. Randy Robin
    Posted April 11, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    It’s not the same as a watch but I have sometimes thought that neither patrons nor ordinance workers should wear tie chains or tie clasps, either. It is a small thing, and I’m sure there are different reasons why they are worn. And I wouldn’t want the temple “overregulated”. I wonder what your thoughts are on the accessory. They’re usually Angel Moroni or temples or just gold or silver bars or chains. But it seems like an optional accessory that could possibly be taken (interpreted) the wrong way. It has a possible implication of distinguising oneself above others (are those the right words?), although that my not be the intent. Church yes, temple not so much.

    Also, as I am changing from street to temple clothes, especially taking off my street (dress) shoes, I almost always hear the words “Put off the shoes from thy feet for the ground whereon thou standest is holy” in my mind. I could see that changing slightly to “and put off thy watch from off thy wrist….” And I absolutely do not mean that in a sacreligious or disrepectful way.

    I do have to say that on a busy Friday night as a veil worker my watch is helpful but nothing for which the temple clocks coudn’t compensate. They are the only clocks that matter in that case.

  7. Steve
    Posted April 12, 2009 at 10:48 pm | Permalink

    I always appreciate suggestions on how to improve our temple experience. I realize that it may be more important for workers in the temple to have watches but I think the comments were directed at the public in general. I use my phone as a watch as well, but when I used to wear a watch a few years ago, I would take it off in the temple. I love the ‘detachment’ that comes with attending the temple. I am more that happy to leave behind anything that would remind me of the world when in the temple; I’m intentionally trying to focus on something higher. Personally, when I’m in the temple, I try to ignore the PEOPLE there as much as possible as well. When I’m at the temple, it’s me and the Lord – that’s it. He’s the teacher and I am the learner; there are no opinions or interpretations from the minds of men, I get my education straight from the source. That’s what I love about the temple.

  8. Greg Nelson
    Posted April 13, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great article, I haven’t worn a watch in the temple for years due to reasons #1 – #5, I always felt the temple was a timeless place. I hadn’t thought about reasons #6 and #9 but they fit. One thing that has bothered me in the temple is in the celestial rooms at larger and busy temples (Jordan River on a Friday night especially) there seems to be a need to chatter about everything outside of the temple. What is the latest with your job? We just bought a new car! Hey, let’s all get together and go to dinner, where would you like to go but Sally can’t get Chinese because it has MSG and she is pregnant? . . . Leave it outside, maybe the lobby or the temple grounds to talk about that. Let the eternal be eternal and timeless while the cares of the world flutter about outside of the temple.

  9. Ben
    Posted April 27, 2009 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    Thank you for you views. I have recently been endowed and took Elder Scott’s advice to heart immediately. As a patron, there is no need for a watch. I would remind me so much of things outside of the temple, when what is on the inside means so much more.
    Greg, I would agree with you. Some people do not always respect the reverence that the Temple deserves. But one thing which I do very much enjoy is discussing, with another very good friend of mine, is our progress concerning our spiritual preparation in serving our missions (we both have our calls). One thing that I will always try to endeavour to do in the House of the Lord is maintain a more ‘Celestial’ mode of discussion. I feel that it highlights my experiences there even more.

  10. Mark
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    I am a temple sealer. Unfortunately, I have to keep track of the time to help maintain the temple schedule. I suppose that will always be something necessary for temple workers. However, while a patron, I can follow this excellent advice. I had done this on my own in the past but now have even more reason to remove worldly distractions from my temple worship.

  11. Andrew Lacayo
    Posted April 24, 2013 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I was a set apart temple worker and served as a veil coordinator for about a year and never wore a watch in the temple. There are plenty of other clocks. I think watches are pointless because the time is displayed on cell phones, computers, in cars and everywhere else you can think of. People that still own watches are just being illogical and vain.

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