Friday, January 17, 2014

Temple Preparation: We Often Do a Lousy Job

I think we do a grave disservice to members by our refusal to talk about the temple much more openly.

Seriously, just about everything is available to the public now - and most of it has been explained in "faithful" writings. On top of that, there really isn't very much that is forbidden to be discussed, especially among "the faithful", in the actual temple wording. When you listen carefully and don't credit all the things that individual members say, the only things that are forbidden specifically deal with one very narrow aspect - and I understand not talking about that aspect.

There is NOTHING that forbids me from explaining the entire endowment to my children - or anyone else - in great detail, as long as I am careful not to cross the line I mentioned above and as long as I only share what the other person is able to understand. I can explain that it is a play or movie, depending on the location - a presentation of the creation of the universe - of the creation of humans (figuratively) - of the conflict between following God or Lucifer - of the introduction of religion and the need to search for people who speak for Heavenly Father - of the things we need to accept and try to do in order to become like God - of our admission into the presence of God. I can explain that I view it all as symbolic - and why. I can talk about the covenants and how I interpret them. etc., etc., etc.

I can go into lots of detail - and I believe strongly that our Temple Prep classes should do so. There is no solid reason, in my opinion, that anyone should go to the temple for the first time and be surprised or shocked - and I believe that deeply and passionately. I believe it is one of our greatest failures in the Church - and it is completely unnecessary, given what actually is said in the temple itself.


Anonymous said...

Thankyou for this, it helps me now and it would have helped me over the past thirty years. Ther has been no- one I could talk to and you make it sound very much more straightforward than it has become in my mind. No-one should be alone with their thoughts.
I have asked home teachers to help me with this but no-one has come back to me, it's become a kind of taboo, and that's what makes it harmful, not the thing in and of it's self.I've really struggled with even basic things like what's real and what's symbolic, and got to the p[oint where, lacking the courage of my convictions or even thoughts, I have come to doubt myself profoundly and this has affected my faith and resolve to attend the temple. In the end I've stopped going in order to avoid the unsettling nature of the experience.
Maybe it's not discussed because it might be too controversial?
Anyhow, I have found this useful.

Firebyrd said...

I agree with this so much. It's sacred, yes, but most of it is not secret and could be talked about. By the time I actually got to go, I had become terrified about making covenants that I didn't know what they were beforehand. When I actually went, I was so relieved and wondered why people made it so hush-hush. My mom claimed after that she would have told me stuff if I'd asked, but I didn't really know what to ask. I plan on preparing my kids much more if and when the time comes.

Abu_Casey said...

I agree completely. In church I've only pushed on the norm that we don't talk about the temple a few times, but I've felt it has been a valuable contribution to the conversation.

I think being able to have a more open conversation about what we learn in temple ceremonies would help us prepare for the temple better, but also enrich our gospel discussions. With that in mind, I'm teaching Sunday School tomorrow, and I may point to the temple during the lesson. Since so many people seem to accept this norm, I think it needs to be done sensitively, but it's worth doing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. Time was when temple preparation consisted of someone in your family or the ward saying, "It's beautiful. You're going to love it." No details. Nothing. I know many members who have never been back because they were not prepared and it wasn't beautiful to them and they didn't love it.

Jettboy said...

From my own blog entry, it appears that lack of preparation wasn't a problem with everyone. In fact, I was rather surprised by the responses. Wonder why comments here and comments there are so different:

Papa D said...

I never said there was a problem with everyone - and the comments here are in line with many of the comments there.

Anonymous said...

I view the whole thing as a topic of restraint, sacred. The brethren hesitate to be open; so should we (except with those on the verge, and ready to receive their endowment). Hiding accurate info is not the point; preserving the sacrosant handling of the topic is. Try replacing "temple" in this article with "sex education" to get a feel for what I mean. (Pres Benson said to do what you suggest with those in prep for their first temple very explicit, therby reducing confusion.)