I don't think the exact actions performed in the temple are eternal actions that must occur for each and every person who has lived throughout history for those people to be saved / exalted in the kingdom / presence of God. If circumcision could be replaced by baptism as a sign of a people's covenant relationship with God, then I'm open to just about any sign of that sort of covenant relationship. (Seriously, cutting off a bit of someone's penis changed to immersing them in water?! There is absolutely no connection there, except the symbolism and faith behind the actions.) It's not the exact form of one's actions that I believe is important; it's the intent and symbolism of those actions and how they impact lives and "becoming" that I think is critical, important, vital, significant, empowering, etc.
So, I believe in LDS temple work passionately for what it
represents and symbolizes - but I could feel the same way if the exact
nature of the actions was something totally different. Thus, I don't
think the actions themselves need to be taken literally (in the sense
that we use to extrapolate baptism back to Adam, which I just don't
believe at all) - but I do believe the purpose / symbolism behind them
is literal and powerful.
At the risk of sounding heretical, and asking everyone to understand what I am trying to say by wording the following in an intentionally exaggerated manner:
I wrote once that if jumping around
like a monkey while barking like a dog somehow carried deep, symbolic
meaning and purpose for a people, and if they chose, therefore, to enact
sacred rituals in which they jumped around like monkeys and barked like
dogs, I would have no problem with that - none, at all. (In many ways, that's how others often react to our own temple ceremonies - with that degree of disbelief and scorn.) If they were
able to feel close to God in that manner, if they really were able to
tap into the divine in that way, God bless them and keep them. I
wouldn't try in any way to shatter that and substitute something that
wouldn't resonate with them and create that same wonder and
relationship, just because their format wouldn't work for me.
Therefore, I can appreciate much of what I see in lots of religious /
sacred traditions and sometimes gain much from borrowing elements that
actually do resonate with me - symbolically.
I do believe that some form of communal "ordinances / ritual" is important - that,
literally, people have to create some form of worship that draws them to
God. That, in my opinion, is literal - and I personally LOVE the way that it is
structured in Mormonism in the temple. I love the concept and principle
of turning our hearts to our ancestors and believing that they have
turned their hearts to us. I wish badly that we as a people would look
at temple ordinances as a chance to "re-call" our ancestors, as opposed to just
"remembering" them. That, to me, is literal and vital - not the exact
manner in which we do the recalling, even as I love the way we can do it
in the temple.
Edith Russell: Associate Editor
7 hours ago