Monday, February 6, 2017

The Temple

                                                                                                                   (The Manaus, Brazil Temple Baptismal Font)

One of the most intriguing things about Mormons, are their Temples.  These building stand apart and can easily be seen and identified by Non-Mormons.  Most the intrigue stems from the secrecy that surrounds these buildings.  Mormons are taught from a very young age that the Temple is a very special place, not one we divulge information about loosely.

“I love to see the temple. I'm going there someday.  To feel the Holy Spirit, To listen and to pray. For the temple is a house of God, A place of love and beauty.  I'll prepare myself while I am young; This is my sacred duty.

I love to see the temple.  I'll go inside someday.  I'll cov'nant with my Father; I'll promise to obey.  For the temple is a holy place, Where we are sealed together. As a child of God, I've learned this truth: A fam'ly is forever.” (LDS Children’s Songbook, I Love to See the Temple)

We sung about these Temples in primary, and learned about them our entire lives growing up in the church.  There are special classes Mormons take prior to them actually attending the Temple proper.  My first experience with the Temple came when I was a small child, but I only remember so much about that experience since I was so young.

When young men and women turn 12, they are then eligible to go to the Temple as a group with their local leaders and do what’s called “baptisms for the dead”.  No, we did not baptize corpses, as much as that would make for some fantastic tales.  What our part as youth were, was physically being baptized approximately 10 times in a row.  Mormons baptize by total immersion into water.  Each time we were dunked, we were being baptized, in proxy, for a deceased person.  

Many Mormons are devout with genealogy, and during these trips, some of the names we were being baptized for, were family members of living Mormons that have submitted those names for our trip.  The church also keeps a large catalog of names of the deceased for any to perform temple work for, in case you didn’t bring your own.  Even Adolf Hitler has been baptized into the Mormon church posthumously. 

Mormons believe baptism is essential to enter into their Heaven (Celestial Kingdom).  As such, it’s imperative those people that have died without being baptized, must be physically baptized for them to accept the gospel in the next life and go to Heaven.  Which is why baptisms are performed for the dead in the Mormon Temples.

Other than these trips as a Mormon Youth, I wouldn't see the inside of a Temple until I was of age.  Not anyone can go inside these Temples.  Even as a young man, I could only go in one part of the Temple with a Temple recommend.  The rest of the Temple was off limits even to me.  When I got old enough, just before I left on my mission, I was to finally see inside the Temple.  With a fresh recommend from my Stake President, I headed to the Temple to receive my “Endowments”. 

“One ordinance received in the temple is called the endowment. The word endowment means “gift,” and the temple endowment truly is a gift from God. The ordinance consists of a series of instructions and includes covenants to live righteously and follow the requirements of the gospel. The endowment focuses on the Savior, His role in Heavenly Father's plan, and the personal commitment of each member to follow Him.” (, “Temples”)

The first time a Mormon goes to the temple for an endowment session, he or she does this ritual for themselves.  After they’ve done their own endowment, Mormons will return to the Temple and perform this ritual for the dead.  Much like with baptisms for the dead, endowments were also performed for the same deceased. 

Mormons are told to not divulge what happens in the Temple to anyone.  Hell, prior to the mid 90's, Mormons that went to the Temple would swear during the ceremony they would not leak the Temple rituals. They would make this promise verbally while physically gesturing disembowelment and slitting of their own throat, by moving their thumbs across their belly and throat.  This was serious shit here.  I was even taught I shouldn’t discuss the Temple ceremony to even fellow Mormons, unless we speak about it whilst inside the Temple.  That was the only place Mormons are supposed to discuss such “sacred” matters. 

I remember hearing so many stories about Mormons receiving visions or angelic visits in the Temple, and I was hoping I would be one such recipient.  I wasn’t.  During my mission, it was widely spread that James E. Talmage, the author of the book, “Jesus, the Christ” had been visited by Jesus in a room in the Temple where he was given the information for the book’s details.  What a statement to be made, and there were no shortages of fantastical Temple stories.

I was 19 years old, and preparing to serve a two year mission for my church.  My parents took me to the St. Louis Temple to receive my endowments.  Indianapolis did not have a Temple at the time, so we drove to St. Louis because it was a larger Temple and I was all about, “go big or go home”.  I had no clue what to expect as I entered these parts of the Temple for the first time.  Even in my Temple prep class, details of what would occur were not divulged.  I was finally at the Temple, and ready for whatever would be thrown at me, but I was not ready for what happened next.

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