A Thoughtful Response to the LDS Temple Recommend Questions

Office desk with overflowing inbox

Introduction

Temple recommend questions were first instituted by Brigham Young a decade after the Saints came to the Salt Lake Valley (1857) and have evolved significantly over time. Early interviews included questions about branding an animal that you did not own and using another person’s irrigation water. Since then, the temple recommend questions have changed significantly, though less so in recent years. In 1996, the first question about a belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost was split into three questions. A second question was modified to ask if the member sustained the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as prophets, seers, and revelators. The question about wearing the garments was qualified, added a clause about wearing them as instructed in the temple. In 1999, a simplified question about financial obligations was asked of all members, not just divorced members. In 2012, the question about wearing the garments was slightly modified to clarify that the garments should not be worn separately.

My Thoughts

After 20 years of temple service, I’ve lately started to find myself a bit disillusioned by the temple recommend interview process.  This is especially true since learning more details about our less than idyllic history and doctrinal inconsistencies, as well as really coming to read and understand masonic teachings and ceremonies which some of the endowment comes from. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve found a good amount of value in the temple rituals… but I think it’s’ time for the temple interview questions to be updated (and perhaps take another look at the entire interview system).

To these questions I could just say… yes, yes.  But it feels a bit dishonest. It has nothing to do with this nice neighbor sitting before me, whose been given the job of judging me (or providing a forum for me to judge myself). My issue is with the questions. They are poorly written and in many cases are impossible to really answer honestly with a yes or no. They also come across as an arbitrary righteousness test. The whole implication of the system seems to be that if someone says “yes” to these questions it means they’re righteous and worthy to enter the “Lord’s House” which is supposed to be a symbol of heaven. My problem with this approach is that I could be a selfish, self-absorbed, self-righteous over-controlling jerk, but as long as I can say “yes” to the letter of these laws I am somehow worthy and righteous? My problem is the emphasis on submission to control (both behavioral and psychological) which seems to be put over an emphasis on LOVE and CHARACTER. This system subtly defines righteousness pharisaically (that righteousness is in orthodox belief and behavior instead of a Christ-like character). How about asking as the first question “do you believe you are a selfless person, or do you try and be Christ-like?”  How about, “do you try to selflessly love others and put the needs and desires of others above yourself?” Or better yet, how about you ask three people closest to the interviewee to vouch for them and see if that gets you a better idea of whether someone is righteous. How about we start the questions with “how do you feel about…” or “do you have concerns with…”.  I’m all for submission to religious and political law, but with these questions are we trying to create a church of Pharisees, who are look white on the outside, but inside are “full of extortion and dead men’s bones”? Not sure, but in my opinion these questions tend toward that direction.

I believe many of these questions need to be rewritten, and the “interview” process needs to revised and split up so it can be more meaningful and less of a drain on leaders time. The process should be a discussion, not an interview. Perhaps Fathers can discuss a third of them, then Quorum priesthood leaders ask a few (as a discussion, not an inquisition), then bishops discuss a few, and Stake Presidents the remaining one or two. I’m really not sure what would be best, I just know I find the current system a bit distasteful.

On that note, I have decided to write these more thoughtful and honest answers to the questions to clarify what I believe and what I think worthiness means.

 

The Q&A’s

1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?

My short answer. What do you mean by a testimony of?  Yes I believe in God. And yes I believe Father, Son and Divine Spirit are three aspects and metaphors of that God—but realize my views of these are likely far different than yours. And I hope that’s OK. Wouldn’t a better question be to simply ask “Could you concisely share with me some of your feelings and belief’s about God?”

My long answer. My concept of God, Jesus & the Holy Ghost are so different from what they were when I was an obedient 19 year old missionary (simply reciting to others the doctrine I was told)—that looking back I might as well have belonged to another religion and have been worshipping “a different God”. After spending 20 years seriously studying the scriptures, theology and getting my own answers from heaven, I now see how these terms are highly symbolic and archetypal and that by including in our first question the unique wording “God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost”, we are essentially reinforcing a creed of belief concerning the nature of God, not so different from those rejected by Joseph Smith. (see JS-H 1:7)  Like all creeds and dogma tests this question puts undo stress on the idea that faith in the predominate LDS model of the Godhead are requirements for heaven and sealing blessings (which I absolutely do not believe is true.).

The unique wording of this question seems to be testing belief in our view of God as a “social trinity” (or three distinct beings one in purpose but separate in body) as opposed to Judaic, Catholic or Protestant views with differing ideas concerning unity of substance and essence, etc. It seems like the type prideful and divisive question that the early Catholic Arians would have forced upon the Monophysites before excommunicating and ostracizing them.

My question is why? What if I come from a protestant background, believing that Jesus Christ IS the Eternal Father? Look at Alma 11:38–39, Mos 15:1-4, Ether 3:14–15, Mosiah 16:15. ALL of these Book of Mormon scriptures teach specifically THAT CHRIST IS THE VERY ETERNAL FATHER. Until Christ’s coming there is no distinction between Christ and the Father. Only later does that distinction appear, while at the same time maintaining the earlier Unity (see John 10:30, 17:11-23, D&C 20:28; 121:28). These scriptural ambiguities have been debated by prophets and philosophers for thousands of years! And we come along and pretend we have the simple clear-cut answers when there are no simple answers. (Scripture appears to purposefully present paradoxes in this regard, which is why the early church fathers agreed on calling God “incomprehensible”).

This question only reinforces the false pride within the church that our “social trinintarian” views are superior to those of Greater Christianity at large. When you put this kind of stress on our neo-Trinitarian assertions — how will they not confuse and disillusion our members when they are confronted with the fact that Joseph’s view on the nature of the godhead changed over time?  That his accounts of how many beings he saw in his “first vision” seem to have changed to match his views? (see church produced gospel topic essay “First Vision Accounts”).  That the Book of Mormon essentially contains classic Trinitarian views on God (Alma 11:38–39, Mos 15:1-4, Ether 3:14–15, Mosiah 16:15), and that Church leaders have changed some of these verses to better align with current views? (for instance, 1 Ne 11:18,21, 32 & 1 Ne 13:14)  That the bible contains verses which conflict with current views (1 Tim. 1:17 | 1 Tim. 6:16 | Jer. 23:23–24 | 1 Kings 8:27, Acts 17:24–28, John 4:24). That Joseph Smith’s lectures of Faith define the Father as “a personage of Spirit”, the son as a “personage of tabernacle [flesh]”, and the Spirit being “the mind” of the Father and Son  (LOF 5:2). And that Later these views were changed to make “the Father have a body”, and the Holy Ghost to be “a personage of Spirit” (130:22). That views of God held by Old Testament prophets very plainly appear to be vastly different than our current view. That Joseph Smith’s King Follet Discourse and D&C 121:32/132 adds complexities to these social Trinitarian views which create more questions than it answers concerning the nature of God(s). That D&C 88:6–13, 93:7-35 teach of an omnipresent non-anthropomorphic aspect of God more in line with Tim. 1:17, 1 Tim. 6:16 and many early church fathers, and more in line with my current beliefs.

I really wouldn’t have an issue with this question, except that the pride within the predominate view we’ve pushed for the last hundred years is causing so many to falter, lose their testimonies or leave our faith. People lose faith when the church places so much emphasis on the supposed dogmatic “truth” of our ideas on God — and then they find out those ideas are not even entirely consistent. And worse, our pride will cause many of our members to reject the coming Jewish prophets. I suggest we stop testing members on their view of God as a requirement for entering the temple and start asking members about their beliefs and experiences with God, so that we may find ways to add to and grow their beliefs in meaningful ways. I believe learning the nature of God as He is symbolically taught in our scriptures is very important and deeply personal. I think the conflicting and even paradoxical descriptions of God in LDS and Christian scripture are purposefully designed to try and discourage dogmatic creeds or idol interpretations of deity. Let’s find and define God together as a church and enjoy each other during the journey, not arrogantly dictate our narrow interpretation of God as seen by one of his many, many witnesses. I believe this is what Joseph Smith did in his lifetime as his views expanded; wouldn’t we benefit by following that example?

 

2. Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?

Testimony of the atonement?… what is that even really supposed to mean? Testimony is defined as “the evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something”. Shouldn’t you be asking if we have faith (which is belief, even in the absence of definitive evidence) in Jesus? Similar to my last answer, I think it would be more constructive to talk about my relationship with Christ and what he means to me rather than just whether I have a “testimony” of his roles and incomprehensible “atonement” (however you want to define that complex concept). I’d rather share my understanding of Christ and his life/death as a living archetype or symbol of universal love, overflowing mercy, forgiveness and harmony as well as the at-one-ness or unity of all creation—my interpretation of the scriptures to worship him, not so much as a singular person per se, (since only an egomaniac would want to be worshiped) but as a mediator/symbol of a unified heavenly group or ideal with which I try to align (see John 17, D&C 88:6–13,41; Acts 17:28, etc). I believe the “Atonement of Christ” motivates all of my desires to love and reconcile the differences of belief I see in this world (Gather together in one, all things; D&C 27:13).  Using yes or no concerning my testimony of Jesus as a righteousness test, insults my understanding of what Jesus and his atonement came to offer. Isn’t that what the Pharisees would have done? Isn’t that what the Jewish High Priests & Pilate tried to do when they tried Jesus and crucified him? Didn’t they give him their own cultural religious test — measuring Him against their preconceived notions of what the prophesied Messiah should be and declared that he failed?

One of the reasons why this upsets me a bit is because although I have had many spiritual and emotional experiences to base my “testimony” on—I know a lot of LDS people who haven’t. They have no “testimony” and operate purely on faith—and that should be ok. Because of the way these questions are structured, these individuals often express how “unworthy” they feel. They feel pressured to lie about their ‘testimony’ just so they can get married or sealed to family. This upsets me given the fact that the Jewish leadership excommunicated Jesus and threw him (and his followers) out of the synagogue for non-conformity to predominate cultural beliefs. Joseph Smith, our own religious founder was also ostracized from his religious community for his differing views on Jesus. How about let’s ask questions to serve as a launch pad for teaching & sharing, not a test of righteousness.

 

3. Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?

Might we instead ask “share with me your testimony or beliefs concerning the restoration of the gospel in these latter days”. Or “do you have faith in the restoration work the Church is trying to accomplish in these latter days?”

My detailed answer as the question currently is, would be define ‘testimony’ and ‘restoration of the gospel’. I believe the restoration isn’t done, its still occurring and its a lot bigger than just the LDS church. I believe in continual religious apostasy and continual need for religious reformation and restoration by those with the spirit of revelation, prophecy and the “testimony of Jesus”. People are human and power corrupts. I believe in a living God and a living Spirit which continually helps men & organizations progress past the stumbling blocks of the past. I believe in clairvoyance & clairaudience or those with the spiritual gifts of prophecy, seership and revelation as we would call them. I believe Joseph had a gift which allowed him to have visions and revelations. I know numerous people both in and out of the church who have had similar experiences, but I believe judging the true source of these visions is difficult. I receive strong spiritual witnesses too, but so what if I didn’t? Would it make me unworthy to call myself a Latter-day Saint?  I also believe that we as Mormons have fallen into many of the same errors that Joseph sought to correct, and I try to address a number of these in these answers. I believe the Church is in dire need of continual restoration and reformation. I don’t care to dwell on the negatives. I love the church and think it’s doing a lot of good and generally fulfilling its divine roles.

 

4. Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?

Perhaps a better question would be “Do you uphold the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys that have been given to our church“.

I’m a bit baffled as to why the question would single out the first presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as the church’s only prophets, seers and revelators, since that goes against our scriptures. If the question is trying to validate the language in D&C 107:91–92 then use it’s precise language instead of this convolution of it.

Like most rational individuals I believe in sustaining religious and political leaders. I try my best to do so. I “sustain” our current President of the High Priesthood (Prophet) as a prophet, a seer and a revelator; as well as the first presidency, travelling twelve and standing twelves of the stakes as prophets, seers and revelators inasmuch as they exercise those gifts of the spirit. I sustain my Bishop, my Sunday school teacher and my home teacher exactly the same; as prophets (or prophetesses), seers and revelators inasmuch as they exercise those spiritual gifts. As you can see, I likely define those titles differently than you, and have issue with how they’re passed around in the church, like they’re suits to be worn instead of gifts and skills that must be worked at, honed and consciously sought for. I hope that the Quorum of the Twelve are more often than not at least moderately clairvoyant and connected to the Spirit of Christ—and not just with the spirit of Brigham Young, or their own egos, but I just don’t know them well enough to judge in every case. Like with all men I sometimes see a good amount of ego & error in their discourse—but why dwell on the negative? I also see overwhelming good. I could say the same about my own ego & error. I believe they lead the Church according to their agency. I certainly don’t believe in the Mormon doctrine of muted prophetic infallibility. (That God will never allow the “brethren” to lead the church “astray”–whatever that is supposed to mean.)

I believe in a God/gods who rule all men, nations and organizations according to their agency. I see what I consider as a lot of idolatry in the Church by those “sustaining” the Church leaders and putting them (or them putting themselves) in thrones that should belong exclusively to the Creator(s). I also see a good many things the church leadership needs to repent of.  I do not believe they are beyond reproach, but I have beams in my own eye which are more important. I believe the President of the High Priesthood is the only one authorized to exercise all the Mormon priesthood keys. I have had ample witness that there are more than one line of priesthood on earth and that the cultural Mormon view that Mormons are the only ones on earth with valid “priesthood” is distorted, egocentric and contrary to our own scripture. I see no scriptural, logical, or personally spiritual basis to suggest that there are not priesthood keys on earth that he/they do not possess, nor are authorized to exercise. In fact many scriptures seem to suggest that claiming to be God’s only people and priesthood is dangerously close to a core tenet of the Church of the Devil. (see this article for instance)  (From a Mormon perspective we could talk about keys the LDS church hasn’t gotten yet, the eternal nature of the priesthood, the distorted & inconsistent Mormon view of apostasy, as well as keys held by “translated” beings like John the Beloved, and the three Nephites and the groups these individuals have/are assisting in probable non-Mormon restoration work among Judah and the other scattered tribes mentioned in LDS scripture. D&C 49:8 says as much. see also D&C 86:8–11; D&C 84:17–18, Abr 1:4, 2:11; D&C 77:14–15, D&C 133:12–13,24–35 for instance.)

 

5. Do you live the law of chastity?

As defined in the temple—sex only between a man and woman who are legally and lawfully wedded—Yes.  I have never had sex with anyone but my wife. Nor am I, nor have I been, unfaithful to her in any way.

But the law of chastity as defined by myself or Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount — no. It is a law that was made purposefully so lofty and idealistic as to be nearly impossible to keep (an absolute lack of selfishness in sexual desire). Christ’s whole point in saying “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” was to show the pharasaically minded Jews that they were all guilty of sin. Just as saying “whosoever is angry with his brother” is under the same judgement as those who kill. As in “you’re all murderers in sense, so don’t put too much emphasis on the letter of the law—look to the Spirit of the law and treating others as you would be treated instead”.  Like the Mosaic Law, the LDS strictures on chastity are useful and generally good for youth and society. But I think Christ’s Sermon on the Mount was trying to counter this type of pharisaical rigidity in moral law.  I think Joseph Smith’s life is a testament to the same principle.

The strict rigidity we have assigned to our modern “law of chastity” combined with the misapplied concepts of essential perfection which we apply to our “prophet seers and revelators” (I use those term sarcastically here) forms the basis of my issue with this question which I think is one of the largest reasons why good people leave Mormonism with bitter feelings. Our pharisaic definition of “chastity” combined with our pharisaic view of our leadership dictates that Joseph Smith must have lived our modern concept of the law of chastity. And that all of his words and actions were that of a “prophet, seer and revelator”. And that God would not have let him “lead the church astray” in any way. (All false conclusions when you look at Biblical examples of prophets and High Priests).

So naturally its devistating to the faith of members when they learn that Joseph Smith did not keep the Law of Chastity as defined by modern Mormonism or even that of his own revelations. There is evidence accepted by Church employed historians that he had sexual relations outside of his marriage to Emma, long before the doctrine of Plural Marriage was “revealed” to the church—and certainly before he was “legally and lawfully wedded” to them (see this article). The church essay’s attempt to spin his sexual affair with 16 year old house guest, Fanny Alger as a “first plural wife” is absolutely ridiculous. (Like God sent an angel with a drawn sword to command Joseph to go behind his wife’s back and have sex with a 16 year-old house guest who is staying with them to help Emma recover from physical troubles! And then denounce polygamy until 5 years later when he finally gives into it and starts marrying women left and right.) There is indisputable evidence that he lied about practicing plural marriage long before it was revealed to the church. I am appalled at the quotes suggesting that he only reluctantly introduced the doctrine of plural marriage after an angel with “a drawn sword” threatened to kill him if he didn’t. (That’s not how my god works!) I am skeptical of the authenticity of D&C 132’s numerous threats to “destroy” Emma or any other woman who rejects plural marriage. I agree with Emma, the three witnesses and Joseph’s children, that he was deceived concerning polygamy. It was simply used as an excuse for adultery and dynastic power plays. I believe D&C 132 is a corrupted revelation and I believe all revelations have the ability to be corrupted by negative influences (see D&C 50:1–3, 1 John 4:1). Despite all this, I see divinity in Joseph’s pre-polygamy visions, the Book of Mormon, his revelations and in current Church strictures on sexual morality.

Although I reject the context, I can sympathize with Joseph’s assertion of moral relativism given in his proposal to Nancy Rigdon (the unmarried 19 year old daughter of Sidney Rigdon). He said,

“That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.
God said, “Thou shalt not kill;” at another time He said “Thou shalt utterly destroy.” This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed…”

The rest of this quote, which I have cut short for reasons of brevity, is quite informative given the context of both modern Mormon sexual strictures and the similar rigid religious mores of Joseph’s day.

I do live the current “Mormon” Law of Chastity, even though it is harmful and hypocritical for the church to uphold this strict law in the sacrosanct manner it is done, when its founders taught & practiced contrary to it. Human sexuality is incredibly delicate and complicated. We should follow the scriptures in strictly forbidding adultery and condemning it as one of the most heinous sins. But we should be very careful in demonizing the sexual mistakes of the youth. Outside of adultery, I prefer that both myself and my children’s sexual activities be governed by personal revelation and common sense. For this reason I will ask each bishop not to inquire after my children’s sexual activities or pose questions concerning “chastity” to them until they are adults. I believe that responsibility is best left to parents (the patriarchal order of the priesthood). The LDS “law of chastity” left me so afraid of sex growing up (in the way that it generally demonizes sex to youth), that I had a hard time properly enjoying sex soon after marriage. I don’t want that my children to experience that outcome.

I believe complete unselfishness in regards to our sexual desire is the high standard which Christ gives in the sermon on the Mount, and is a standard none, including myself have reached, but one we can all work toward–one which I seek to work toward.

nauvoo-temple

6. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?

This is kind of a ridiculous question. How about rephrase it with “Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family which you would like to discuss and feel is not in harmony with the teaching so the Church?  Since Mormon scripture and doctrine often teach “perfection” (3 ne 12:48), everyone should technically say no to this question. This is even more true if you are a parent. Kids try my patience as much as anything I can imagine. I am far from perfect in my discipline and teaching, but I do my best–which I think & hope is pretty good parenting. I don’t think anyone would consider me even remotely “abusive” if that’s what you are asking here. (If that’s what you’re asking, why not just come out and ask it?) Really, if you want to test my righteousness, instead try asking for my thoughts on how I’m doing or better yet why don’t you ask my family what kind of man they think I am? I would personally be far more interested in their opinion of me than my opinion of myself. I think I’m a fairly easy husband and father to get along with.

 

7. Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

This question really needs to be rewritten. You as a leader have got to admit this question is so manipulatively ridiculous that it’s hard to hold a straight face when discussing it. At least half the world is part of a group “whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the LDS Church”. Was this question written by Kim Jong-un, Mao, Stalin or the Catholic Church during the Inquisition? If any temple recommend question was to make people lose faith in Mormonism… this would be it. It comes across as a cult practice or witch hunt.

I’ll try to answer honestly without laughing. Support? Not monetarily (well I guess that’s not true since I pay taxes to the U.S government & various non-LDS companies which have “practices contrary to the church”). In fact the church itself has teachings and practices that are contrary or opposed to its own scriptural teachings. Affiliate with? I have family members, friends and online acquaintances who are contrary to the church, so yes.  Also I read their material and comment on their forums. Agree with? For sure— They have a lot of good points. Remember that advice “agree with thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with them”—I think it was um… Jesus who said that. I increasingly find myself following this advice in connection with anti-Mormons because I’ve found that frankly they’re often right. In my experience the majority of “anti-Mormons” are ex-Mormons who left because they felt marginalized, shamed or demonized, and because of their experiences; they have really good points concerning things the Church should improve on. Most of them (including early leaders like Martin Harris, Emma Smith, Smith’s children & Oliver Cowdery) left because church leaders did not follow the Lord’s advice in D&C 121:41–43. In other cases they have differences of opinion on doctrinal issues—and again have really good points which I very often agree with. In other cases they found fairly overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing in church history and feel that official LDS treatment of these dark aspects of our past are unfair.  Again I agree with them. In my life I try to reconcile all the differences of opinion that I run up against, and I am most successful in this when I love and agree with my “supposed” enemies. I seek first to understand and agree with them—then I see if I can get the same respect in return.  I do not like to be negative or contrary, but this is a polarizing question which almost requires it.

I am also a fanatical truth seeker, which means I read and consider the truthfulness of any revelation proposing to be from heaven. I’d be quite the hypocrite if I accepted Joseph Smith’s prophetic ability despite his obvious mistakes and misunderstandings (like the kinder-hook plates or the true nature of the Book of Abraham papyrus), and yet didn’t also read and glean the truth out of other purported revelations like the Koran, the Tao Te Ching, The Avesta, The Vedas, The Apocrypha, Baha’i Scripture, The Zohar, Oahspe, The Urantia Bible, The Kolbrin, The Book of Ben Kathryn, The Sealed Portion, The Aklatan, The Metinah Papers, etc. One of my largest issues with Mormonism is that very hypocrisy, with the majority and leaders and members believing they have “arrived at truth” and have no more need to search out the continuing revelations of heaven. “A bible? A bible? We Mormons already have a Quad and we need no more scriptures!” (unless they come from our leaders, and are given in our culturally accepted language, and in no way contradict our cultural interpretations of our current understanding of the Christian gospel).

Opposing views I sympathize with: Some aspects of Joseph’s & the early saint’s polygamy, blacks & the priesthood, women and the priesthood, the way sexuality is taught in the church,  the way homosexuality was dealt with in the church, Utah polygamy, elitism, phariseeism, autocracy in church hierarchy, “worthiness” interviews, church history cover ups, the Danites, blood atonement, etc, etc…  For most my life I thought all these issues were completely baseless (because that’s what I felt Church leaders led me to believe), but the more I learn the more I see we have a shady past that needs to be brought out into the open, discussed, reconciled and forgiven. But as I said before, I try not to ever focus on the bad when there is so much good to focus on. I don’t believe it is constructive to discuss these issues in church settings. I chose to focus on faith and repentance through the love of Christ. I am a reformer and will continue (following Jesus’ example) to press for reform according to what God puts in my heart.

 

8. Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?

Yes I do my best to keep the covenants I have made personally with God. I seek diligently to keep my life in harmony with the gospel laws God gives me personally. I typically attend church but would not think twice about spending quality time with family and friends above, and in lieu of, church attendance. Church attendance once held a special place in my heart and in my spirituality, but since having kids, and as I increasingly personally connect with God and receive intelligible guidance through his Spirit I get less and less from Church lessons. I like to go to church to try and help others and connect with others. I see it as a great teaching tool for children and youth. I believe strongly in the idea of people getting together to try and solve social problems and teach youth. But my spirituality is increasingly shifting from buildings and organizations built with human hands to those built without human hands (as in Acts 7, 2 Cor 5, etc).   I believe the principles of shifting away from organizational religion and people “preaching to us” to a system where we reach through the veils and receive personal revelation and personal covenants with divine beings is at the heart of the endowment teachings. I believe the rigid and dogmatic aspects of organized religion are “schoolmasters” which seek to bring young and old souls together to a higher state of mind. I believe the gospel is more about good works than ordinances or teaching and preaching. In that light, parts of this question seems a bit silly as a righteousness test.

 

9. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?

I believe so. I sure try to be.   This is a great question by the way.  A better phrasing would be “Do you do your best to be honest in your dealings…”, and “is there anything you would like to talk about concerning your honesty…”.

 

10. Are you a full-tithe payer?

As I define it Yes. Which the Church Handbook of Instruction suggests I’m allowed to do concerning this question.

But I’d like to clarify myself. Because the church doesn’t obey or even teach the original spirit of tithing and consecration, which was social economic equality (exalting the poor and humbling the rich). And because the church doesn’t have any transparency concerning the details of where our tithing money is going, and gives members no input on its distribution— I pay tithing as it was originally defined, on my annual “interest” on my “surplus property” (see D&C 119:3–5).

3 And this shall be the beginning of the tithing of my people.  4 And after that, those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord.  5 Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you. (D&C 119:3–5)

As described by Church Historians (see this article for instance, or this), the original law of tithing called for all members to give all their surplus to the church (meaning income and property above the median income needed to cover basic wants and needs). Tithing on this ‘storehouse’ of consecrated surplus then went to pay church workers and fund projects to provide for “widows and orphans…as also the poor” (D&C 83:6. see also D&C 84:11242:30-39). So specifically, tithing or ten percent was then to be assessed on the interest earned by that consecration. The storehouse was essentially the same as a bank or credit union where people put their “excess income”, but the storehouses purpose was to lift the poor as it wisely invested people’s money—and tithing was a fee taken of the top. Consecration, was then a law to assure relative economic equality among the saints, and tithing was to be assessed to keep the church financially solvent and running. It’s purpose was to “administer to the wants of the poor” and to “humble the rich and proud” (D&C 84:112). The poor were NOT TO PAY TITHING, because its whole purpose was to exalt them and humble the rich.  Our current system which we pretend is so fair is really a mockery of the principle of economic equality the law sought to promote (as I read it).  It does nothing to abase the rich, very little to lift the poor.

Instead it goes to building ghastly expensive temples which certainly don’t help alleviate the latter-day issues Nephi prophesied about,

…and their churches are lifted up; because of pride they are puffed up. They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up. They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few… (2 Ne 28:12–14)

I am very disturbed by what I see as an increasing deviation from the principles taught in 2 Ne. 28:13, 2 Ne 20:2, Mal 9, D&C 42:30, 3 Ne 26:19, 4 Ne 1:3, D&C 105:1–6 . Our highest leadership disregards the instructions given to us in scripture when they put millions and even billions of dollars of money and energy into temporal things like expensive buildings, shopping malls (regardless of whether this is tithing money, it still uses church resources) and building programs which do not directly work toward accomplishing the tasks given us in the aforementioned scriptures. I invite them to read Alma 39:11 again and consider it in light of materialism. This bad example of materialism is causing many to lose faith and “not believe in [our] words”.  Radical reform is sorely needed and I do not think I am alone in seeing this. Some of the recent spending by our leaders is akin the building of St Peter’s Basilica by Pope Leo X; an act which along with arrogant related misuses of priesthood authority, upset so many members of the Catholic Church as to spur the medieval reformation (see Luther’s 95 thesis). I suggest church leaders read carefully the history surrounding this act and reform accordingly.

I am incredibly bothered by seeing the size, cost and number of some of the Apostles homes, estates and vacation homes (some are worth over a million dollars and most are over a half million, see this article). I am troubled by the fact that general authorities/seventies make twice the median income in salary when they repeatedly use the church’s “lay clergy” as a false selling point for the virtue of tithing. General authorities are suppose to be an example in how to sacrifice the temporal for the spiritual. Instead our seminary teachers are a better example than the quorum of the twelve. Have they forgotten this scripture?

14 Nevertheless, in your temporal things you shall be equal, and this not grudgingly, otherwise the abundance of the manifestations of the Spirit shall be withheld. (D&C 70:14)

20 But it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin. (D&C 49:20)

Is there any wonder why so many members are leaving our church as “the abudance of the manifestations of the Spirit are withheld”. This would not be a big deal if it were not for the fact that our scriptures teach so ardently against monetary aggrandizement and inequality. I couldn’t care less if one of our volunteer bishop chooses not to live the spirit of monetary consecration, but I expect far, far, far more from our highest leaders who claim the apostleship of God. I defended these men up and down on my mission, and to learn they are hypocrites and live just as lavishly as many televangelists really upsets me. I don’t care if ALL their money came from book deals or their lucrative careers previous to being called— if they want to call themselves apostles, they need to “forsake all and follow him” (Luke 14:33, Matt 19:27)— or their bad examples are going to continue to divide the church.

 

11. Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?

This entire doctrine really needs to be revised, clarified and re-presented. How does one answer this question honestly when our definition for the “word of wisdom” constantly changes?

The word of wisdom as “no drugs, coffee, tea or alcohol”, yes I keep it and have never touched any of those. As literally defined in scripture, No. Sometimes I eat a good amount of meat when it is neither winter, cold nor famine, and the Word of Wisdom forbids that (D&C 89:13). Sometimes I drink hot drinks like hot chocolate and the Word of Wisdom forbids that (D&C 89:9). Sometimes I eat a good amount of corn and oats which the word of wisdom says are more for animals (D&C 89:17).

I’ve never had a bit of alcohol or illicit drugs—but I don’t think that makes me a good Mormon or a good Christian. Contrary to Mormon myth, both Christ and Joseph drank wine. I’ve never had alcohol and frankly never want to, but someone shouldn’t be penalized or made to feel evil if they do want to and can do it in moderation. I like the “word of wisdom” as defined by current church leaders as no alcohol or drugs, but pushing it as a religious stricture instead of an important “word of wisdom” has many negative fruits. It has caused a lot of division in among my non-practicing siblings which really upsets me. I hope to teach these principles in the proper light to my children to avoid the division, self-righteousness and ill feelings that this dogma causes in Mormon country. Once again, I invite Church leaders to revisit the way the word of wisdom is taught and to revisit the importance of not “adding to” and “taking away” from the laws God gives in scripture. It has been very divisive for my siblings, for Utah and for the church… and I do not see how attaching a ‘wicked’ behavioral stigma can be justified when Jesus and our church founder engaged in the same behavior. God’s words of wisdom are not meant to be a burden, but a wise counsel toward a general standard of good living.

 

12. Do you have financial or other obligations to a former spouse or children? If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations?

Not Applicable. I’ve only had one spouse.

 

13. If you have previously received your temple endowment:Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple?
Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple?

Yep on all three.  But once again what is this question trying to prove in regards to wearing the garment?  How about ask me how I feel about the garment… what the garment means to me. What modesty means to me? Let’s talk about how the garment can be a symbol of our religiosity and faith.

I don’t wear it when I swim. I probably shouldn’t wear it when I play some sports because it gets sweat stains (but I usually do).

I see the garment as an important tool to promote conformity to generalized religious dress standards. I also see its importance as a symbol of religious observance.  But I’ve seen it as a cause a good amount of emotional pain and fear in some members (especially women). I ask that the church do a better job allowing local stake leaders the authority to dictate many specifics concerning the wearing of the garment. God’s standards are not to be a burden, they are to be a help and a joy. Making dress laws a stricture which precludes temple blessings for adults is a mistake.

.
14. Have there been any sins or misdeeds in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but have not been?

I think not. A better phrasing would be “Do you have any guilt or shame from past misdeeds that you would like to talk about or get help working through”?  Do you see how by changing just a few words, we can stop upholding “power and influence by virtue of the priesthood” (see D&C 121:45), and instead use humility and Christ-like attributes to uphold that power and influence?

 

15. Do you consider yourself worthy to enter the Lord’s house and participate in temple ordinances?

Yes. But I believe the whole point of the earthly temple is to show us that God’s true house is not built by human hands. (Isa 66:1–2, Acts 7:48, 17:25, 2 Cor 3:3, Heb 3:4, Alma 33:2–12)

I have a view of what the temple has been in the past and could be now, that is so beautiful and wonderful. But the current temple has lost so much of that. It is like Solomon’s temple, built with good intention but corrupted by those who want power over others—an ultra-expensive statement of power, prestige and legitimacy.

It can be an opportunity for communities to work together to build and maintain something beautiful. It can be a way to walk our children through an initiation process which shows them how to pierce the human-made veils that divide us. It could be a place to teach the deep mystical aspects of group consciousness, thoughtful intent, how to harness and hone gifts of the spirit such as prophecy, revelation and seer-ship. It could be a central communion built around community.  It could be the meeting place for the “school of the prophets”, where those who see past the symbolism of the lower priesthood go to learn the mysteries and solve important social problems. But now it has become an institutionalized den of figurative money-changers, just like Jewish worship was. It has become a club for exclusivity and elitism, just like Jewish worship became. The true meaning of sacrifice lost. The true gospel distorted. The patriarchal order misunderstood and misapplied. The true order of prayer lost. A bunch of crazies who’ve twisted the meaning of the rituals and now actually think nobody in heaven is “married” except those who have had their temple work done. Like God has had millions of angels in heaven for the last 2000 years telling lovers and life-long couples to “stay away from each other!” because you haven’t been legally married by a Mormon proxy yet! Or that he’s kept people out of the Celestial kingdom for 2000 years because their baptism “wasn’t dont by the proper priesthood authority!”.  Its so ridiculous. It’s so prideful. Its SO against so many of our own scriptures. And yet its what most members believe.

True religion unites; false or apostate religion divides. Apostate religion creates religious social classes. It alienates large subsets of the group. It demonizes people and makes them feel wicked and subservient instead of making them feel loved, redeemed and free. It breeds apostates, discontent and ill feelings. Just like the Lamanites and prideful Nephites of the Book of Mormon, apostate religion leads to a great division in society which eventually ends in war. To know how a church is really doing, you must look at the division it causes.  Is it uniting more families and neighborhoods or is it dividing them? Is it solving the world’s social problems or creating more of them?

Mormonism has so much good in it… but we could do so much better with a little paradigm change from our leaders.

 

  • Yvonne Bent

    For years I have seriously contemplated the words of the Apostle Paul when he asked his audience, Know yet not that Ye are the temple of God?
    When we consider that statement and that everyone, whether they be a Mormon who carries a current temple recommend or a Hindu or Muslim, Catholic or Buddhist is included in that group, it charges every individual to consider their current belief about temples and the worship within, ancient and modern. It makes these temple recommend questions, changeable with season and culture, to appear to be folly at best.
    The temple with all of its rituals, clothing, and practices, serve as a schoolteacher. The endowment schools us in our journey on this earth as we seek to become like Christ. No human can hold us back from that journey, no matter what the questions may be.
    A person can spend years studying the changes in temple recommend questions, and it changes nothing. Temples come and go, are burned, pillaged and toppled. We are eternal, our spirits go on forever. These buildings have taken on a life of their own, are filled with more pomp and ceremony and millions upon millions of dollars from the coffers from the poor and believing. It was so at the time of Christ and apparently nothing has changed. I loved my time in the temple, the clothes, the ritual, the days when I went fasting. I valued my recommend above anything in my wallet. I believed that my eternal progression depended upon it.
    But before I ceased to participate in temple ritual, I queried about a bishop having authority to decide whether I could worship and adore Christ at the local temple where I had diligently attended. I have fasted and prayed many days to understand the temple as a latter-day practitioner. I have come to know for myself that these questions make no difference where my relationship with God exists.

  • author

    Agreed. Seems like the scriptures make it pretty clear that temple worship is simply a symbol (a “copy or shadow” of the way heaven operates, “not the reality itself” as Paul puts it.) It serves to point the way to righteousness and salvation, but should not be confused with the truth of what it takes to be redeemed… which is almost entirely based on the way we treat eachother, and that love’s power to bind us together as families and groups…

    10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming–not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. (Hebr 10:1 NIV)
    5 They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” (Hebr 8:5 NIV)
    23 That is why the Tabernacle and everything in it, which were copies of things in heaven, had to be purified by the blood of animals. But the real things in heaven had to be purified with far better sacrifices than the blood of animals.
    24 For Christ did not enter into a holy place made with human hands, which was only a copy of the true one in heaven. He entered into heaven itself to appear now before God on our behalf. (Hebr 9:23-24 NLT)
    6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter [type/symbol] kills, but the Spirit [meaning behind the symbol] gives life. (2 Cor 3:6 NIV, compare NLT)

  • sara

    I love the post. Many of your insights resonate with me. However… Being this transparent in the interview process is bound to be disastrous. Most bishops/SPs are not in s place to understand what you are talking about. You might as well be speaking a foreign language. I’ve found its best to regard the temple interview as a ritual rather than a disclosure of facts.

  • mark

    Great read! Thanks for writing it up. Made me smile to see Nancy Rigdon and moral relativism in there. 🙂

  • jim

    Bro—-for someone who professes unity , you sure are good at divided thinking—-hope you’ve got a safety net when you fall of the wire!
    The questions, in the first place, reflect dualistic, binary thinking; you double down on that with more of the same. If you would like a more Holistic or Unitary view, see Christ’s Farewell address; John 14, 15, 16,17. Yes—- esoteric and unLDS—FAIR warning — if you read it with dualistic mind you won’t understand Christ Consciousness.

  • Lisa

    You are so lost and can’t even see it…..and with your current state of mind and beliefs, your supposed spiritual revelations are definitely not God’s. Hope you find your way back. Members are not perfect but the gospel is and always will be. Our Prophet guides us through current revelation from God. If families and even the world are dividing, that is Satan’s doing, plain and simple and that has been prophesied. These are the last days. If you could just focus on the good and let go of your negativity, you may start to see the light again. And if this post has made you angry, that is the adversary influencing you. Don’t you remember we are supposed to live in the world not of the world? You have become wordly and cannot see the truth anymore. But there is always hope. I pray you will find your faith and believe again.

  • Lance

    Are you making this comment to Jim, the one who wrote the previous comment or to the author of the article?

  • admin@MormonUniversalist

    Bro. not sure exactly what you mean. but I hear you.

  • Jackie

    Thank you for this great post. Makes me so relieved some other Mormons in the world who were raised in this church and value the good in it also see something very wrong with this system.

  • Jackie

    Thank you for this great post. Makes me so relieved some other Mormons in the world who were raised in this church and value the good in it also see something very wrong with this system.

  • Lisa

    You are so lost and can’t even see it…..and with your current state of mind and beliefs, your supposed spiritual revelations are definitely not God’s. Hope you find your way back. Members are not perfect but the gospel is and always will be. Our Prophet guides us through current revelation from God. If families and even the world are dividing, that is Satan’s doing, plain and simple and that has been prophesied. These are the last days. If you could just focus on the good and let go of your negativity, you may start to see the light again. And if this post has made you angry, that is the adversary influencing you. Don’t you remember we are supposed to live in the world not of the world? You have become wordly and cannot see the truth anymore. But there is always hope. I pray you will find your faith and believe again.

  • admin

    Are you making this comment to Jim, the one who wrote the previous comment or to the author of the article?
    If the author. I’m curious what made you so offended, and what you’re basing your many judgments on? I counted about three personal attacks and five personal judgments without a single explanation to back it up. This is the kind of stuff that makes people leave Mormonism (not that I’m about to… I’m a pretty seasoned member). If you have issues with people or what they say, just politely cite your issues, the specific reasons for your issues, and then wait to see if maybe they can apologize or clarify themselves or otherwise resolve your issues.
    I’d address the issues in your comment, but they are so vague, that I don’t know that I could without over-generalizing.

  • mark

    I really like this post. You make many good points here (though some are a bit long winded 🙂 just giving you a hard time !).

    I have been a faithful member my whole life. Mission, married in temple, 10% Gross tithe payer, look to serve and be as Christian as I can with my fellow man. I have loved going to the temple since I was endowed and have felt peace there.

    Re the Garments question –> I have recently began to question why such a focus on the nitty gritty of are we wearing our garments when we are out gardening – much better to ask “how do you feel about the garment?” “in what ways is it meaningful to you?” – I don’t wear my garments when I’m out on a jog, or going for a swim. I’m not looking for excuses to take them off, but I also enjoy getting some sun when i’m out working in the yard – in moderation (and with sunscreen) it is good for the soul – soak up some vitamin D – let alone the amount of sweat coming out. Seems a bit over the top to worry so much about that – but do i treat the garment with respect? Yes. Do I leave it on the floor when changing? Never.

    Re the WoW –> I agree with you on your take about the WoW. The revelation was “To be sent greeting; not by commandment or constraint…” D&C89:2. When you look at Church history on it and how it changed from being a “greeting” to becoming a “commandment” in the early part of 1900s, it seems it was changed to become a “commandment” and requirement due to cultural landscape of the time…

    I seriously doubt when I stand for my interview with the Savior, he is going to care if I drank green tea, or had a glass of wine or a beer occasionally (which I don’t nor have I ever). The main thing he is going to be concerned with is if I “was I kind, was I honest, did I teach my children to love and forgive others, did I show love to my wife, and pray for those that may have hurt me in some way”? If I say, no to any of those, but say… but but but I didn’t drink wine or beer….” I’m sure He will smile and say, that is fine my dear son, but you kind of missed the mark, my dear child… anyway, seems you did partake of quite a bit of red meat, and what about all those diet cokes. 😛

    Don’t get me wrong. There is wisdom in abstaining from alcohol and other things. Think about high school age kids who are full of energy, hormones and coming into independence – when they drink they do stupid things and often things they later regret… but part of that is the American culture. You don’t have that in many other parts of the world where there aren’t such “taboos” on drinking…. anyway, I’m rambling. I get that these things are well intended. I love the Church. I feel the Church is the influence for so much good in our world and in helping men come to Christ, but let’s not miss the mark. I fear we have in some ways become like the Pharisees and Sadducees, with a focus on the rules (and the unfortunate ensuing judgement that come from other members), rather than on the heart. Yet at the core of the Church is Christ and his doctrine, we sometimes get sidetracked by things that are much less important.

    I do understand that often times God asks people to do things that don’t make sense – just to test their obedience. And these two may be part of that. We know the scripture: “I know not save the Lord Commanded me” Moses 5:30. My concern is that these two – particularly the WoW and its current interpretation is a major stumbling block for many otherwise strong and decent people that are leaving the church. Let alone the numbers of amazing people out there that would probably join the church if it weren’t for this policy. I don’t live in a heavily concentrated LDS area, but I can tell you that there are so many GOOD, HONEST, Christian people in my community. People that are well educated, that are teaching their kids to be good, honest forgiving Christians, but so few of them would ever join the church because they would say – didn’t Christ turn water into wine? (not grape juice as we were taught in Primary).

  • mark

    Hi Lisa – I don’t think that admin’s post was to say these are spiritual revelations, but simply that there could be some changes to the approach that would make these questions more of a loving counsel, than a “test of righteousness”. The members certainly aren’t perfect, and the church isn’t either… it continues to evolve over time. The Gospel (true doctrine) is perfect yes. There is a difference between Doctrine vs. Policy. The Doctrine rarely changes, but Policy often does and has done so many time times in my short 40 or so years. I think part of what he/she is going for here is to bring a more honest and open discussion than a checklist. If you think about yourself, I’m sure that there have been things in church that you thought “it would be really cool if we adjusted this here or there a little”. It is not evil to think that way. Many of the prophets over the years have said that we should not follow the brethren blindly, but that we are to seek things out for ourselves. Many of the changes in policy have come from people (either church leaders or others) saying “hey – have you thought about this?”. (think Emma and the tobacco spit)…

  • Kip

    Thank you for your blog post. I have had some real problems figuring out what the hell to say for #8 in my last interview. I am a very strong supporter of the LGBT community and want to support them. I have so many friends and family who I love so much who are gay and I honestly don’t believe they are living in apostasy or are sinning at all. However, I am keenly aware of the churches stance on homosexuality. The 8th question makes me feel like I can’t agree with my gay friends/family’s lifestyle and still be “worthy” to go to the temple since the church considers their lifestyle apostasy.

  • Robert

    Love the sinner but condemn the sin. You just want live on both sides of the fence and pat yourself on the back for being understanding, the Church doesn’t consider their lifestyle an apostasy, God has declared it an abomination at least 7 times in the Bible, never even mentoned in the BOM. Are there hypocrites in the Church, absolutely. I’m pretty sure the guy who wrote the article about the interview questions isn’t being honest about his own morality or he has absolutely no understanding of the Gospel or the Temple. It’s okay to love and respect someone who believes differently, it doesn’t make you a bad person. I have several friends who drink and/or use drugs, but I will neither join them in this indulgence or allow this activity in my home. I do not condemn then for this, I still love them and encourage them to do better. Jesus did not condemn the adulteress, he forgave her and then commanded her to sin no more. If you feel they are not living in sin then you must also say there is no sin, and if there is no sin then there must not be a God. You can’t have it both ways. I also have friends who are LGBT and they are members of the Church. Everyone who comes to this Earth will face a test, it is up to each individual to use their agency to choose which path to follow. The question you must ask yourself is, will I satisfy myself or will I strive to be obedient to God. I have 10 children and each has been allowed to make their own choices from the time they were teenagers, some have done okay and still need improvement, but then don’t we all? Others have gone terribly wrong, I still love them and pray for their welfare. I have a brother who murdered a man when he was young, I still love him and pray for him. I am far from perfect and have no room to preach, but that doesn’t change God or his law. I hope you can stay friends with those individuals and love them enough to help them repent. People usually join the church that they can feel most comfortable in their sins or they try to force the church to accept their sins, God does not change. You have to decide who you want to satisfy, your friends or God. Get off the fence.

  • Robert

    Yes, there have been many, many changes since Adam and Eve. Each time God gives us laws and we fail them, he has given us lesser laws and we still seem to fall short. I wish I could see the first set of tablets that Moses came down from the Mount with, they must have been heavenly compared to the ten simple laws that were finally received. God has always given us laws, rules, commandments and along with them he has given us our agency to choose. Even with the 10 commandments Moses had to continually give the Israelites additional, lesser laws so they could manage to find something they could be obedient to. We, as a people, always want to bring God
    Down to our level rather than work to bring ourselves up to his. I believe that is Satan’s goal. I have found that most criminals believe the laws are wrong or unfair. That doesn’t change the law. Try honestly and truly living the laws faithfully before condemning them.

  • admin@MormonUniversalist

    Robert. To your comment…
    “I’m pretty sure the guy who wrote the article about the interview questions isn’t being honest about his own morality or he has absolutely no understanding of the Gospel or the Temple”

    No hidden sins here brother. I have stopped paying tithing (as a protest), but other than that, I keep all the LDS covenants. My family and I attend church and help with callings. It’s interesting you’d make such an accusation. In my opinion, if I had little to no “understanding of the Gospel or Temple”, I’d still have the attitude that you seem to have from what you say here… (the attitude of zealous orthodoxy and ‘righteous indignation’ that I shared with you from my youth, through my mission, and up until I really began searching for the truths of religious purpose). The way I see it, most religious adherents, be they Mormon, Catholic or Hindu don’t care so much about knowing the truth of religion and the unseen world, they just want to feel accepted, respected and like they belong to a group and a winning team.

    Let me ask you, since you suggest you DO understand the “gospel and temple”.. do you know exactly which parts of the endowment are copied straight from the York Rite of Masonry and which parts are original? Have you even read the York rite? Or Morals and Dogma by Pike or similar treatise on Masonry? Of the original parts of the endowment which aspects teach the same principles as Masonry but just in a different framework? What baring does that have on LDS truth claims? Does it matter at all? Is there a common antecedent spanning back to Egypt like some suggest? Who does the preacher (removed in 1990) in the endowment really represent? What is the difference between the religious law (fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) that the preacher and Lucifer try to teach Adam, and the covenant based system the apostles offer? What is the significance of the name Lucifer (light bringer), and why is it sometimes applied to Christ and sometimes to Satan? Why is the Patriarchal priesthood the highest priesthood and what is the significance of the names and signs we promise to keep sacred? Why did Joseph lie for so many years about Polygamy? Why did he keep things from Emma? Would God really send an angel with a flaming sword to command Joseph upon penalty of death to go behind Emma’s back and marry his 16-17 year old live-in nanny, Fanny Alger 5 years before the revelation on polygamy was made public? Is that the kind of God you believe in? If LDS prophets and apostles were wrong for over a hundred years about Blacks and the priesthood, what else might they be wrong about? Does Modern Mormonism teach a worldview in line with our scriptural foundation? Does it matter?

    I’m not hear to give my opinions on the answers to these questions. I ask only that you read all the new church essays, research them against other evidences, pray about it, and then go back to the temple and ask for further light and knowledge. If your experience is anything like mine, the answers you get may surprise you… And above all, your “surety” that you are “right” and in the know about so many religious things will greatly soften….

  • Arrow

    While I agree with most of the grievances that you site, I think it’s important to remember that rigidity, as applied to the questions to enter the temple, are important. As the serve for us to scrutinize ourselves to a degree whereby we do not enter the temple unworthily. As a matter fact, I’ve seen where rigidity has served a purpose to protect me from myself and many situations. I figure, if any Mormon can read Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W Kimball, and still remain a Mormon, that person is well on his way to the celestial kingdom.

  • Douglas Self

    As much as I revere the memory of the man whom was the first that I sustained as “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator”, if “truth in labelling” were applied to MoF, it’d be titled “It’s a Miracle if You’re Forgiven.” Though I will say that I couldn’t likely have done as well as he did under the same circumstances. Methinks the old boy was getting crotchety in his dotage.

  • Douglas Self

    You can be friends with gays and still not endorse what they do. Nowhere is it commanded that you have no contact with such.

  • Arrow

    You know, that is a good observation. However, if I may be so bold, I plan on making that book a walk in park by the time I get done with this mortal probation.

  • Arrow

    Don’t know about you Dear Sister, but I’m ready for Zion.

  • Douglas Self

    Arrow wrote: ” I plan on making that book a walk in park by the time”. Meaning….?

    My only real issue with MoF is that IMO, too many bishops get ‘lazy’, and treat the late SWK’s most famed tome as if it were scripture (though it’s pretty darned close), which it is NOT, and even SWK himself said as much in the prologue. He was the last of a breed of Apostles that were very much ‘hands-on’, as the Church was much smaller and more concentrated in the Intermountain West. Just recounting some of the miserable crap that he had to deal with leaves me with the impression that if I’d done but a tenth of what the late SWK did, and turned out only ten times as ‘cranky’, I’d be one awesome dude. It’s not unlike Patton slapping a few soldiers in Sicily in 1943…we don’t like it, but if you understand what the General did, how he saw things, and what were his motives, you wouldn’t be so quick to judge and condemn. So it is also with SWK…in fact, reading MoF, while I don’t agree with EVERYTHING in it, gives me an appreciation of what the old boy had experienced in what was then some 25 years of Apostleship.

    Certainly there’s nothing WRONG with reading MoF, indeed, Deseret Book wouldn’t continue to publish it. Could it have been revised to ‘soften’ the tone? Maybe. But SWK was called to be the President of the Church in late 1973, so he had more important things to do. I trust that he used his remaining time until his passing in 1985 far more effectively in doing the Lord’s work than I could dream of being capable. Just don’t make his work more than it is, or what likely he intended it to be, appreciate it but “work out YOUR OWN salvation” with ‘fear and trembling’ (Philippians 2:12)

  • Arrow

    Good advice. Thank you. My meaning was, if my understanding of “salvation” is correct, then the seeming rigidity of MoF should not only be desirable, but achievable. I keep hearing LDS members saying in open forums that they can never be perfect in this life. And with that, they probably will never be,..in this life. My trouble with this is by asserting such, they are defeating their own purpose, which is to become perfect. My understanding of the perfection that the Savior asserted “Be ye therefore perfect” is to be spiritually mature. And if perfection with God is our purpose, I would think it would at the very least start with the BELIEF in perfection. My goodness, I hear this statement of “I could never be perfect in this life” as if they have forgotten all about what Jesus Christ ultimately did for us: to make us perfect! And yes, even in this life, perhaps. Is it any wonder we have not built Zion and stepped out completely from Babylon. Zion must be written upon our hearts, and in my humble opinion, if we truly yearn to become like our Father in Heaven, it starts with the belief that perfection IS achievable through Christ, whether in this life, or the life to come. Through Christ, perfection is not about what we did in the past (repentance), or what we will do tomorrow, perfection is about the NOW. God is always in the NOW. We are one blink from seeing His face. And seeking His face is what we should be doing in the NOW, and every NOW thereafter. If we truly have Zion written in our hearts, if we truly believe in perfection, then “be ye perfect” right NOW, in the NOW, and forever in the NOW. If we do this, SWK’s propounding of strict living will seem a “walk in the park.”

  • Douglas Self

    I would agree that at times we members employ self-deprecatation as an excuse rather than an expression of humility. As one decidely unproductive salesman lamented to his boss, “I guess I’m not a natural-born salesman”. His boss’s retort? “That’s obvious, but have you considered disregarding the state of your birth and BECOMING one anyway?”