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picture of templeOne of the distinguishing features of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) is the temple. The buildings are magnificent and mysterious not only for people who aren’t of the Mormon faith (they are not allowed to enter the temples after the temples are dedicated), but also for members of the faith.

As members we are instructed not to share the signs and parts of the ritual that we participate in the endowment portion of the temples and so from that perspective it makes it even more mysterious. Since we are not allowed to share that information, people who haven’t been to the temple yet often feel confused when they do go because the experience is very symbolic and different than what one usually sees in the regular church services.

I read a recent article by S Michael Wilcox entitled “10 Ways to get more from your Temple Experience“. The following paragraph from the article accurately describes my feelings when I went to the temple for the first time:

Most of us have a vivid memory of the first time we went to the temple to receive our endowments. I was a newly called missionary and had traveled to the Los Angeles Temple. I did not know what to expect. Although some aspects of my own endowment were wonderfully edifying to me, much of it was confusing. I left bewildered and a little frightened. I have since discovered that my experience was not unique. I have also discovered why my first experience was not all what I had anticipated. At the time, I did not understand the manner in which the Lord teaches His children in His house. Had I understood, my anxiety and confusion would have disappeared, even though my comprehension level might have remained the same.

Since the first time I went through the temple, I have been back many times and over the years have become more comfortable with it. There are a number of things that we participate in during what is called the “endowment session” that include signs we make with our hands, clothing we wear, covenants we make, prayers we say, and then passing through the veil of the temple.

When I was reading in the Bible recently about Jesus with his chief apostles when he was transfigured, the phrase “endued with power” in Luke 24:49 stood out to me. When I searched for that scripture from an LDS point of view, I found an interesting blog called “LDS Temple Endowment“. The article I read was interesting and shares from their perspective why the LDS temple endowment is Biblical.

What was even more interesting to me was a link to an essay published at BYU studies over 30 years ago called “Catholic Liturgy and the Mormon Temple“. It is a 35 page essay that shares various rites in the early Christian church that are very similar to the temple rites found in Mormon temples today. Additionally, it shares pictures of some Catholic cathedrals that have very similar altars and veils that are found in LDS temple endowment rooms.

The reason why this is particularly interesting for me is because as LDS, we believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes ordinances that are not found anymore in any other Christian church today. We believe it is a restoration of the original Christian church that existed right after Jesus established his Church.

Here are some of the interesting things that stood out to me:

1. In the early church there were rituals where both members of the church and non members could participate. There were also rites that only members could participate in.

2. The rites included were for both male and female and they were divided into two groups upon entering

3. There were white garments and robes placed on those participating in the rites

4. In the very early days, there was a distinguishing between the church and temple. Later on, the two merged into one.

5. Some of the churches and cathedrals still have a veil and an altar. People who participated in the rites passed through the veil and someone on the other side represented the Lord and only their hand was allowed to show to help pull the people through the veil.

6. Part of the wardrobe for men included a cap with a string that attached to their robe. Also, women wore veils.

7. There is a part of the ritual that includes people putting names on the altar and those participating praying for the names on the altar.

8. During the ceremony there is a portion of members of the group repeating words from the priest leading the rite with them standing up and sitting down (this is similar to what I’ve seen as I have participated during Catholic mass).

9. There were washings and anointing that took place where oil was placed on various parts of the body of the individual and a prayer was said that included the following words:

I sign your forehead I sign your eyes so that they may see the glory of god. I sign your ears so that you may hear the voice of the lord. I sign your nostrils so that you may breathe the fragrance of Christ. I sign your lips so that you may speak the words of life. I sign your heart so that you may believe in the holy trinity. I sign your shoulders so that you may bear the yoke of Christ’s service in the name of the father and of the son and of the holy ghost so that you may live forever and ever

After that prayer is said, the person is endowed with new white garments because the person is considered reborn.

10. People were given a new name. This new name was typically a Saint’s name.

Although the rites are not identical, there are enough similarities that it is very interesting to me.
Those of you who have been through an LDS temple, will probably relate to a lot of the things that are brought up in the essay as well as the points I brought up. I found it to be very interesting how many similarities there were. I also found it very interesting that Joseph Smith put together the LDS temple endowment without having a very strong understanding of the Catholic church or the history of the early church (as far as I can tell) because it was predominately Protestant where he was raised and lived for most of this lifetime.

Recently I attended another Mormon temple wedding.  This one was my other brother’s wedding.

I wrote a more detailed account of what happens inside a Mormon temple during the wedding ceremony last month, so I won’t get into specific details in this article.

For now, I will highlight the advice the temple sealer said to the young couple.

Four Cornerstones for a Successful Marriage

1. Family Prayer

2. Scripture Study

3. Having a weekly Family Night

4. Regular Temple Attendance

 

We’ve all heard the catchy phrase, the “family that prays together stays together“.  According to some research, prayer coupled with church attendance helped reduce divorce rates for couples.

The other similar phrase I’ve heard over the years is that the “family that plays together stays together“.  There is also research that substantiates this comment.  Holding a weekly family night is an excellent way to have an organized and set time to play with the family.  I know that it is hard sometimes to find time to play with my kids, but family night is a great time to play with the kids.  I’ve had some very memorable moments and am grateful for the family nights we’ve had doing projects, singing songs, playing games, and making treats.

Although this research supports families specifically, I would say that couples who hold regular date nights and take time to pray together experience greater satisfaction as well.

I’d be interested in hearing your experience and ideas to make a successful marriage work.  Feel free to leave comments.

Recently I was fortunate to have been able to attend a Mormon temple wedding in both Sacramento, California and in American Fork, Utah.  Just in case you haven’t seen either of the temples, here are some pictures:

Sacramento Mormon Temple

Mt Timpanogos Mormon Temple (in American Fork, Utah)

As you notice, the outside of the temples are white and the buildings are elegant.  When you get closer to the temples, there are the words “Holiness to the Lord” inscribed on them as you enter.

Once you enter into the temple, there are temple workers who are dressed in white.  The white signifies purity and cleanliness that is only found through following and accepting Jesus into one’s life.

The temple workers will then ask you for your Mormon temple recommend, which all Mormons receive if they are living a virtuous life and trying to follow Jesus.

After showing the recommend, we were then led to the sealing room where the Mormon temple wedding takes place.  A typical sealing room, as shown in the picture below,  has an altar in the middle of the room with chairs surrounding the altar for the guests.  There are also two chairs at either side of the altar for the witness couple (typically the couple is both the bride and the groom’s parents) to witness the wedding.

Mormon Temple Sealing Room

We’ve had many discussions over the years on this blog about the various ways God speaks to us through His Spirit.  I must say that God spoke to me in a very powerful, yet simple way at both of these Mormon temple weddings.

In both situations, I felt the power of God’s Spirit upon entering the temple.  It was a feeling of complete purity and peace that washed over me.

After we were all seated, the bride and groom then entered, followed by the Mormon Temple Sealer, or in other words, the person performing the wedding.

As seen in most religious weddings, the Mormon Temple Sealer gives advice to the couple.  Usually, the advice is good and centered around how to keep the Lord as the center of the relationship.

Additional advice that I found very insightful at these weddings included the following:

  1.  Tell each other that you love each other every day
  2. Tell each other why you love each other
  3. Never give the same reason twice as to why you love each other
  4. Never speak evil of the Lord’s anointed can mean not to speak evil of each other

After giving insightful words and sharing testimony, the Mormon Temple sealer then has the couple kneels across the altar and grasp hands.  He then performs the wedding and seals them as husband and wife for all eternity together with the Lord.

It is a beautiful thing to witness and the Holy Spirit is very strong.  I recommend a temple marriage to anyone!

 Recently I had a close family member get married in the temple to an awesome guy.  This young man was the only member of the LDS church in his family and it was an uncomfortable situation (to say the least) for the bride, groom, and family members involved.  Although there was a ring ceremony for those who couldn’t attend the temple, from what it appeared, there was an unpleasant taste in their mouths so to speak about the LDS Church and their policy with not allowing them to watch the wedding ceremony. 

This situation is something that is a sore spot for many people.  In fact, one blogger shares an example of someone who went as far to say that one of the main reasons why Mormons are not Christians is because they keep parents from watching their kids get married.

So what is the solution?

It appears that some people feel that a petition to the First Presidency of the Church to change the temple policy is the way to go as seen on this website.

Some people on the petition site express how in other countries a temple marriage is not counted as a civil marriage and therefore LDS couples are allowed to get married civily first and then go to a temple “sealing” shortly afterwards.  Currently in the United States, if a couple gets a civil marriage first, they have to wait a year before they can go through the temple to get “sealed” (or married).

Others believe that if you follow certain steps of preparing non-member friends and family, heartache can be avoided, as seen on this site.

Personally, I do not feel that anything one can do or say can reduce the hurt a non-LDS family member feels by not being allowed to watch their close relative get married.  However, I can also understand how people may feel that it lessens the purpose of the temple and maybe puts their commitment to the Lord in second place if they get married civily first.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Should the LDS church make exceptions for family members and allow them into the temple just for sealings?  Should they allow couples in the U.S. to get married civily first and then married in the temple shortly thereafter as they do in other countries?  Do you feel that if the LDS church allowed non-LDS people to participate in the temple that feelings towards the Church would be better and possibly a missionary tool?

Mormons are known for the revelation given to Joseph Smith commonly called the “Word of Wisdom”, which is the law of health.  Part of the Word of Wisdom includes things that individuals should not consume such as alcohol, and “hot drinks”, which the LDS prophets have interpretted to mean caffeinated tea and coffee. 

I read a study on line from UC Davis that stated the caffeine content of some energy drinks can be as high as 294 mg/bottle, which is 50 mg more than the highest amount of your typical tea, coffee, or cola drink.  In addition, when you add the amounts of sugar to the drinks, they become something that definitely are more damaging to the body than any tea or coffee.  See the chart below for caffeine and sugar content in popular energy drinks:

Drink Serving (fl. Oz.) Servings per container Sugar per serving Caffeine per serving Kcal
Diet Rockstar Energy Drink™ 8 2 0g 80 10
Full Throttle™ 8 2 29g 72 111
Go Girl Sugar Free™ 12 1 0g 150 3
Lo-Carb Monster XXL™ 8 3 3g 80 10
Monster Energy Assault™ 8 2 27g 80 100
Monster Energy XXL™ 8 3 27g 80 100
Red Bull Sugar Free™ 8.3 1 0g 80 10
Red Bull™ 8.3 1 27g 80 110
Rockstar Energy Drink™ 8 2 30g 80 130
Rockstar Juiced™ 8 2 21g 80 90
Wired 294 Caffeine™ 8 2 26g 147 100
Note: This table does not include amounts of other stimulants found in energy drinks that can enhance the effects of
caffeine.          

With all that caffeine in all of the drinks, along with the stimulants found in many of them that enhance the effects of caffeine, coupled with sugar, an energy drink is far worse than a cup of Joe in my opinion.

In general, I think it is good to treat our bodies with respect and not put harmful substances in them.  I find it interesting though that coffee and tea are laid out specifically as things to avoid, whereas things like energy drinks are left to our own discretion.  I think we should avoid all of them, personally.

A point of discussion, however, is in regards to temple worthiness and the Word of Wisdom.  Mormons who follow the Word of Wisdom (i.e. don’t drink coffee, tea, alcohol, use drugs, etc.) can go into the LDS temples.  Those who do not follow the counsel to not drink coffee, tea, etc. can not attend the temple.   In theory, people could be putting down energy drinks that are much worse than coffee, yet be allowed to attend the LDS temples.

Do you think they should add Energy Drinks to the list for the Word of Wisdom?  Why or why not?

Also, if energy drinks are worse than coffee, if one drinks coffee and not energy drinks, do you think they are justified in saying they follow the Word of Wisdom?

As I was reading in the Book of Mormon the other day, the following part of a verse in Mosiah 2:9 stuck out to me:

open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.

What are the mysteries of God?

The Bible Dictionary contains numerous references to the “mysteries” of God.  In fact, the New Testament has the most references out of all scripture.  I like the Greek definition of what “mysteries” means.  According to one of the ministers of Spirit and Truth Fellowship International, “mysteries” or “musterion” in Greek means “Sacred Secret” in it’s purest English translation.  Therefore, when we read in scripture about the mysteries of God it is something sacred but secret to those who are not interested in “opening their minds, ears, and hearts.”

The Bible contains numerous examples of people talking about the mysteries (sacred secrets) of God

In Matthew 13 Jesus speaks in parables to a multitude.  His disciples then question him and ask him why he speaks in parables to the people rather than just come right out and say it directly.  Jesus then answers by saying “…it is given to you to know the mysteries of God but to them it is not given.”  This fits in with Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7 not to cast our pearls before swine.  In other words, some people haven’t opened their hearts and minds to be able to understand the sacred secrets of God and if they’re not ready it’s of no use to try to teach them.

Another New Testament example is found in Ephesians 3.  In this verse Paul discusses how mysteries are made known to Jesus’ people through His apostles and prophets.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ or Mormons believe in modern-day apostles and prophets and that the mysteries of Jesus’ kingdom can be made known through them.  One mystery that many people from other faiths and also within the Mormon faith have a difficult time understanding is the temple ceremony and the ordinances and covenants made within the temple.

In his book “The Inevitable Apostasy,” Tad Callister quotes Origen (an early Christian leader from the first century) on page 250, saying of the primitive Christian church:

Whoever is pure not only from all defilement, but from what are regarde as lesser transgressions, let him be boldly initiated in the mysteries of Jesus, which properly are made known only to the holy and the pure.

This quote shows that in the early Christian church there were certain “mysteries” of Jesus only reserved for those who had prepared themselves spiritually.  Furthermore, it mentions an initiation process.

In addition, Callister references the scripture in 1 Corinthians 4:1 that talks about the leaders of the church being the “stewards over the mysteries of God.”

Modern-day LDS temple ceremonies are similar to this concept.  Within the Mormon temples LDS members who have prepared themselves participate in ordinances and ceremonies and make covenants with God that could be compared to the initiations mentioned by Origen from the original Christian church. 

What happens inside the temple is very symbolic and in order to understand the ceremonies and ordinances one must be spiritually prepared and willing to receive the “mysteries” of God.  If one hasn’t taken time to prepare spiritually, it will be hidden from our view much like those of Jesus’ day who did not understand His parables.

My first temple endowment experience was very overwhelming and confusing to me.  Upon entering the temple I hadn’t properly prayed, studied about the temple and in the scriptures, and prepared for the experience.  Therefore, it was very overwhelming and confusing.  Looking back on it God didn’t reveal anything to me because it would have been similar to casting pearls before swine.  I wasn’t humble and didn’t have the right attitude upon entering the temple.  It wasn’t until years later when I had humbled myself more and taken time to pray, prepare, and develop the desire to learn the “mysteries of God” found in the temple that I started having amazing and sacred spiritual experiences within the temple.

It is my testimony that if we prepare ourselves before going to the temple we can and will receive amazing communication from God and the sacred secrets He would have us know in our lives will be revealed. 

What are your thoughts about the temple ordinances being a “sacred secret?”

I read this article in Meridian Magazine and thought it was very appropriate to share.  This brother in LA has every right to retaliate, but chooses a Christ-like approach to dealing with opposition.

To read the article click here.

Last Sunday I went with my family to an exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum called “Illuminating the Word.”  It was very, very interesting.  This project was a re-creation of the St John’s Bible as it would have originally been created with colligraphers.  In addition, there were artists who depicted their feelings from the Bible in paintings and writings on the pages next to the colligraphy as well.  I was very impressed and inspired as to how many people the Bible has touched and continues to touch and how the Lord has preserved His word through the Bible.

The translation the artists chose was the New Revised Standard Version because it most accurately alligns with the King James Version but is written in modern-day language.  I thought it was very interesting how the artist who wrote Genisis chapter 2 decided to include on the side an excerpt from 2 Corinthians 3:18 as written in the NRSV version.  It reads as follows:

…and all of us with unveiled faces seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another…

Now, for those of you who have been through the temple, this will be very interesting.  First, I found it interesting she decided to insert this verse in the Adam and Eve story and secondly the verses themselves reflected the temple ceremony and purpose as well.

Most LDS people use the King James Version of the Bible, so I decided to take a look and see what the KJV said in this verse.  It reads as follows:

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

If you’re feeling really ambitious, I also found a site that has about 10 other translations of this particular verse here.

Personally, I like the NRSV version best because it has such clear imagery and accurately describes one of the main purposes for me in attending the temple.

What are your thoughts?

I came across some interesting sites the other day and thought I’d share them for people to see.  These stats are rather old (9 years), but they are interesting nonetheless.

The first site shows information on the various divorce rates amoung various Christian denomonations and other groups.  The interesting thing is that athiests have the lowest rate at 21%.  You can view this site at this link: Baptists Most Likely to Divorce.

Now, you’ll notice on that report that although Baptists are the most likely to divorce, Mormons have a 24% divorce rate, which is only 2% lower. 

However, there is one exception: Mormon Temple marriages.  Those Mormons that Marry in the Temple have only a 6% divorce rate.  You can view this information at this site: In Era of Divorce, Mormon Temple Weddings Are Built to Last.  You will notice that this article gives reasons of why the divorce rate for temple marriages is significantly lower.  This list includes the following reasons:

  1. They Date within their Faith 
  2. They Make Sure they’re Committed to their Faith
  3. They get their Lives Squared Away before Marriage (that’s why I was 30 before I was married! : )
  4. They Make the Wedding Ceremony Sacred
  5. They Marry for Eternity
  6. They Believe the Family that Prays together Stays together
  7. They Get Help when they have a Problem
  8. They Believe Children Create a Happy Marriage
  9. They have Family Home Evening every Monday Night
  10. The LDS church and active members discourage divorce.

I would have to agree with these statements.  The Mormon marriages I’ve seen work apply all of these aspects to their marriages.  Those marriages that are unhappy or that fail are not applying these to their marriage.

Do you have any experiences with these suggestions that support these claims?  I’m sure the readers would love to hear!

The official statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) says the following about the purpose for temple garments:

Like members of many religious faiths, Latter-day Saints wear religious clothing. But members of other faiths — typically those involved in permanent pastoral ministries or religious services — usually wear religious garments as outer ceremonial vestments or symbols of recognition. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, garments are worn beneath street clothing as a personal and private reminder of commitments to God.

Garments are considered sacred by Church members and are not regarded as a topic for casual conversation. (LDS Newsroom)

I’ve personally never really paid that much attention to why people of various religions wear certain clothes…especially their underwear!  However, as a Mormon, somehow this topic gets brought up on occasion and I can understand our friends of other faiths having questions about why we wear garments. 

For example, I was on a business trip a few years ago and shared a room with a colleague.  When we were changing he looked at me and had a hard time not doing a double take.  He had questions…a lot of them.  All I knew was that it is emphasized that garments are not used for casual conversation and I’m afraid I confused him more than helped him with my vague explanation of why we wear garments. 

Today I was reading in the scriptures and also a talk on how the garment is an outward expression of an inner commitment.  The verse I read today that impressed me was in Alma 34:36:

…the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell; yea, and he has also said that the righteous shall sit down in his kingdom, to go no more out; but their garments should be made white through the blood of the Lamb.

I’m not sure why I hadn’t really paid attention to this before, but one purpose for the garment is to remind us of the suffering that Jesus went through for all of us and to remind us that our sins are washed away through his blood.  I then became curious and thought I’d look up more scriptures with this imagery and I found quite a few that share similar imagery.

I’m sure if I had sat down with my friend and showed him the scriptures related to the garment, it would have made a lot more sense to him rather than giving a vague answer and telling him it is too sacred to talk about.  Our friends may or may not agree with wearing the garments, but they should definitely gain more understanding if we approach it with confidence and understanding from their perspective.

Have any of you had a similar experience?  If so, what approach have you taken on explaining the purpose behind wearing the garment?

Other Good posts about Garments:

Some History of Mormon Underwear

Cleanse your Soul with Grace for Grace “Spiritual SOAP”

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