Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Temple - Part 1 (The ticket to get in)

I am currently looking at the Temple and what is taught there so I thought I would start by posting the questions you are asked twice (first by the bishop and then the stake president) before you are allowed to have a temple recommend which is what you need to get past the geriatric guards at the front desk.

These won’t be new to most members but to those who are not LDS, these are the requirements to get into the temple. If you do not answer one correctly, then the Bishop can choose to not give one and thus not allow you to go to the temple.

Keep in mind that in order to live in the highest kingdom with God, you must go to the temple and participate in the ordinances that are done there. If you do not, you can not be with your family forever.

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

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

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

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?

5 Do you live the law of chastity?

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

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?

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?

9 Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?

10 Are you a full-tithe payer?

11 Do your keep the Word of Wisdom?

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

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?

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

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

Now, I don’t have a problem with numbers 1, 2, 5, 8, 9, and 12. I think these are things most Christians would say are important. Let me comment briefly on the others if I may.

#3 – Should I have a testimony of the restoration as told by the church today or of the restoration as told by the early church history books, which differs on many accounts?

#4 – That depends on if they can answer number 9 in the affirmative and if they can reasonably answer the many questions I have about church doctrine. If they cannot or will not, then I cannot consider then men of God and therefore they would not be prophets.

#6 – I have no problem with this one until it says “the teachings of the church”. I would like to propose that we change that to read “The teachings of Jesus according to the Bible”.

#7 – Is this meant to discourage members from associating with those who have left the church? If so, what do they think would happen if they did? If you take this questions literally, it actually mean anyone who is not LDS because if you do not believe in Mormonism, then your practices and teachings are going to be contrary to those accepted by the church.

#10 – I know that the Bible talks about tithing, but is it really a commandment? I don’t remember it being taught by Jesus in the New Testament. Members today are told to pay 10% of their gross income but when the law was instituted in the Doctrine and Covenants 119:5 it says they should be tithed of their “surplus properties”. My surplus is much different then my gross income. If you can only live with God if you attend the temple, but cannot get in unless you pay tithing, is this not a way of paying for your salvation?

#11 – This is an interesting one. The focus of the WoW is not the do’s but in the do not’s. Generally, when this question is asked, they are referring to the typical teaching of don’t smoke, drink, do drugs, etc. The WoW is considered an overall guide to healthy living. It tells you to eat wholesome and good foods and only in moderation. When they ask this question to someone who is over weight or who uses food as their drug, is that taken into consideration?

#13 – This one is only relevant if you have been through the temple but even then I take exception to it. The covenants you make in the temple are done under false pretenses. You do not know before you go what they are going to ask of you so once you get to that point in the ceremony; it is too late to turn back. Covenants are defined as a two-way promise. In order for a covenant to have meaning, both parties must hold up their end of the bargain. I consider truth and honesty to be part of the bargain so since the church has not been honest with me by telling me the truth about the church, I consider the covenant, null and void.

#14 – I think confession of sin should be between man and God. It is taught that Jesus was the mediator between us and God, not my bishop.

#15 – No, because those I know that live better, more Christ-like lives then me are not considered worthy because they belong to another church so why should I? If you look at the list of questions, I’m not sure Joseph Smith and others would be worthy to be there either. Joseph drank wine and smoked up until the night before he died and if you read the accounts of the women the polygamist men left behind, they certainly were not taking care of the needs of their families.

The worst thing about this is that numerous members feel as if they have to lie about some of these in order to keep their status as a recommend holder and to be able to witness things like the marriages of loved ones. I know because I have talked to many who, like me, did just that. I admit that I had no desire to go to the temple before my mission but it was required so I did it. I even married my wife in the temple because it was the “right thing to do”, not because it was what we wanted to do. Back then, I did not have the strength to think for myself and just went through the motions. When I “woke-up”, I no longer felt the need to be what others wanted me to be so I did not go back because I knew I could not be honest and answer the questions the way they wanted/expected me to.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Missionaries Being Taught to "Lie for the Lord"

This is a clip of Robert Millet who is a professor of ancient scripture and emeritus Dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University. He is speaking to a group of soon to be missionaries. He has some very telling comments regarding how to answer questions from non-members and the idea of “milk before meat”. This is something I was also taught while on my mission.

The full un-cut video can be found here

In my opinion, this is a way to not only keep non-members from knowing about the real doctrine of the church but to also keep it's members from seriously looking at the more controversial parts that might bring about other questioning. Converts are baptized not having any real idea of what Mormons believe in because of this attitude toward teaching and the fact that many are baptized after only weeks of speaking to missionaries. They know LDS people believe in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the Word of Wisdom, Tithing and a few other things like baptism but I think we all know that is just the tip of the Mormon iceberg. How can these investigators really know what they are getting into when the only information they have is this? They don't, and they are even asked to attend separate classes called Gospel Principles that makes sure that they only get "milk" for at least the first year they are members. This kind of stuff makes me regret ever teaching others about Mormonism. I hate the fact that I was part of something so misleading.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Eternal Marriage Myth

The other day, a comment was left on my wife’s blog about her decision to leave the Mormon church. My wife chose to take the higher road, which I admire her for. I personally prefer the “road less traveled” so this is my reply to the same comment. It is with her permission that I use the comment in question. It was as follows…

”So how does it feel to know that you WILL NOT be with your husband and daughter that you love so much for ever?

Regardless of your beliefs, had your marriage occurred in any forum or religion other than a temple marriage, the last words before you say I do are "til death do us part".

First, for many who are not familiar to the idea of Celestial or Eternal Marriage, here is some information from to explain what it is.

“The covenant of eternal marriage is necessary for exaltation. The Lord revealed through Joseph Smith: "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; and in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; and if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase" (D&C 131:1–4).

”After receiving the sealing ordinance and making sacred covenants in the temple, a couple must continue in faithfulness in order to receive the blessings of eternal marriage and exaltation.”

I really don’t care about the actual ceremony itself because many churches have their own unique way to performing marriages so I can understand that. The problem is that it divides families and does not allow those who are not considered worthy to enter the temple to be a part of it. Instead, they are relegated to second class citizens, forced to wait outside, only to hear about how great the moment they missed was. Talk about adding insult to injury. It is like saying, “your not one of us so not only are we going to not let you in on our little ritual, but were gong to tell you how beautiful and special it was and that it was too bad you missed it. If only you were Mormon too, then you could have seen your own daughter/son or brother/sister married.” And all this time I thought the church was really about family.

The greater issue when looking at eternal marriage is what comes after the ceremony. Being married for eternity or “sealed” as they call it really does nothing because you are never guaranteed the blessings promised.

Elder Bruce McConkie in his book “Mormon Doctrine” talks about this.

”Marriages performed in the temples for time and eternity, by virtue of the sealing keys restored by Elijah, are called celestial marriages. The participating parties become husband and wife in this mortal life and if after their marriage they keep all the terms and conditions of this order of the Priesthood, they continue on as husband and wife in the Celestial Kingdom of God. Celestial Marriage puts a couple on the path leading to exaltation of heaven of that world.”

”Those who have been married in the temples for eternity know that the ceremony itself expressly conditions the receipt of all promised blessings upon the subsequent faithfulness of the husband and wife.

The odds of actually doing enough to make it happen are stacked against you. All it takes is one mistake by either of you and the promise is null and void. If you or anyone in your family does not reach each “spiritual milestone” on the path to exaltation then they will not be with you. says it pretty well.

• Don't pay your tithing? Your family won't be together.
• Don't perform secret rituals in the temple? Your family will be separated.
• Someone in the family doesn't believe? You can't be with them.
• Children not married in the temple? Eternal separation.
• Family not active in church? You won't be together.
• Someone in the family not a member? They're cut off.
• Relatives not members? You can't be with them.

If you look at the average ward membership numbers and then count the number of people who actually attend, you will see that only around ½ of them are active at that is probably being generous. That leaves a lot of people who, in some way, are tied to an eternal family that will not be allowed to be with their loved ones when they die.

The LDS church teaches that “neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man”. They interpret that to mean that you can not be exalted without being married to someone who is also worth to make it. What happens if your significant other decides to do something as small as have a cup of coffee every morning? Not obeying the Word of Wisdom would keep him/her from being worthy of attending the temple and entering the CK. If they died before they repented, then that would in affect destroy the bonds between you because they would not be allowed into the highest kingdom of heaven. How sad to think that you could spend your whole life focused on eternity to have it slip through your fingers at the last moment because of something you had no control over.

I think of the unnecessary pain and sadness my poor mother has gone through as she has had to deal with husbands who have not lived up to their end of the deal and two sons who do not prescribe to the Mormon faith. Much of her grief stems from the idea of an eternal family that will never be. Where is the hope in that?

One of the things that attracted my wife to the church was the idea of an eternal family and the strong family values the Mormon church presented. When I stopped going to church, she began to wonder what would happen if I never came back. The idea that you can not be exalted without your husband or wife was hard for her to accept. How could someone else have that kind of control over your personal salvation? Some people told her not to worry but that God would work it all out in the end. That if she held up her end of the bargain that she would still have a chance of being exalted but with another man. That thought disgusted her. Why would she want to be eternally married to someone she does not even know or love? She has found comfort and peace in her new beliefs because she is now fully in charge of her own salvation through Christ. She has faith that she will be with her loved ones in Heaven when the time comes.

As far as I'm concerned being an Eternal Family is really only reserved for a "lucky" few in the church. If your child or another member of your family does not follow the gospel 100% then I’m sorry to say that, despite all your efforts, they won’t be with you in the Celestial Kingdome. There are too many restrictions on it to really make it as great as it sounds.