is the Lord Himself who, in His revelations to us, has
made the temple the great symbol for members of the
inspired erection and proper use of temples is one of
the great evidences of the divinity of the Lord’s
work. Where there are temples, with the spirit of revelation
resting upon those who administer therein, there the
Lord’s people will be found; where these
are not, the Church and kingdom and the truth of heaven
are sacred for the closest communion between the Lord
and those receiving the highest and most sacred ordinances
of the holy priesthood. It is in the temple
that things of the earth are joined with the things
wonder the Lord desires that His followers point themselves
toward His example and toward His temples. No
wonder He has said that in His holy house, “I
will manifest myself to my people in mercy.”
- The Prophet Howard W. Hunter, First Presidency
Message, “The Great Symbol of Our Membership,”
Ensign, Oct 1994, page 2
as a faithful member of The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I always
looked forward to going to the temple. I have many fond
memories as a child of my parents taking their little
suitcases and going for the evening to attend the temple.
They wouldn't say what they actually did in the temple
and their suitcases were off-limits. Nonetheless, I looked
forward someday to going with them to that special place.
After my 19th
birthday, I took those standard church temple preparation
classes at the Stake Center. After the six classes, I
was even more exicted about attending the temple because
they expounded on the teaching that temple worship was
centered around Jesus Christ.
classes didn't provide any real details about the temple
ceremony. And none of my family or friends that had already
participated would tell me what happened there. All I
knew was that the temple endowment included a play/movie
"about Jesus" and church members made sacred
covenants to "be more Christ-like."
I prepared for my first time all excited, expecting the
endowment ceremony to be about the ministry of Jesus Christ.
I thought, perhaps they would enact the Sermon on the
Mount? Or maybe they would show the Last Supper and have
us participate as disciples? Or maybe they would portray
other scenes in Christ's ministry that were lost to time
that revealed spiritual meanings.
all, I fully expected the temple covenants to be related
to Christ's ministry - helping the poor and the sick,
forgiving others and loving one another. I imagined that
I would see some of Christ's parables enacted, and then
make a covenant to do as Jesus taught. For example, covenant
to be a good samaritan, or forgive the prodigal sons among
us, or not judge others.
spiritually prepare for my first temple experience, I
read the four New Testament gospels. So the example of
Christ's life and his message were so vivid in my mind.
I imagined the temple would be an elaboration on the main
things Jesus had lived and taught us to do.
first temple experience was the Salt Lake Temple, where
they still do the "live" ceremony instead of
only was the endowment far removed from the New Testament
Jesus Christ, it didn't even have anything to do with
what Jesus taught the Native-Americans in the Book of
more of a let-down was that Jesus (called "Jehovah"
in the endowment) hardly had any real speaking parts.
In the temple endowment, Jehova is nothing more than a
glorified messenger boy, shuttling messages between his
father, Elohim, and Peter, James and John.
Christ's brother Satan, on the other hand, is the star
of the temple ceremony. For example, he tells the audience
to put on their aprons and everybody does it. He preaches
little sermons to the audience and converses with Adam
attending the temple, there is no way I could honestly
believe that the Mormon temple is a bastion of Christianity
or Jesus Christ. I get more Jesus Christ out of a 15-second
written blessing on the Sacrament every Sunday than in
the two-hour temple endowment ceremony.
you look into the origins
of the Mormon temple ceremony, this all makes a lot
I the only one who felt disappointed by their first temple
experience? Apparently not. After I posted about this
on an anonymous Mormon discussion group, I received these
sincere replies from other church members:
have to admit that I was actually relieved after my first
temple experience. I had several people scare me to death
about the temple. Some of my friends almost left the church
over their first temple experience.
had also been warned about the washing and anointing beforehand.
I had "threatened" my sister that I would leave
the church if she didn't tell me before I went, because
I had heard things at work from other church members about
temple "nakedness." Thanks goodness they have
removed that from the ordinance.
I never became comfortable enough with the temple endowment
to attend often. At first I was relieved, then the reality
set in. I will never get over the "five points of
fellowship" experience at the veil.
were preached at all our lives about sexual purity and
then they put us in these situations? I felt violated
every time I presented myself at the temple veil. I only
went to four sessions.
know I shouldn't talk about it, but the temple ceremony
frightened me the first time.
it started, I was told nothing, and I was not sure what
I would get--something like "Step forward Tin Man,"
or a warm fuzzy feeling as I watched some stars on a planetarium
I did not expect was walking
naked in a "shield," having elderly gentlemen
with Scandinavian accents touch me, and then going through
a weird ceremony where I slit
my throat, promised to be perfect under pain of death,
and went into a room full of Victorian furniture, where
I was told I should be just happier than anywhere else
came home, slept, and awoke in a state of horror. What
had I stumbled into? What was this? A long struggle began
with talks to the Bishop, my father, and more trips to
the temple. It only got worse. I finally ended up praying,
and asking God to help me get through it.
like you are the reason the church changed
the temple ordinances. The church has made many changes
before, but it was still creeping out too many people,
so they diluted it again, and again, and again.
church will continue to water down the ordinances until
there's nothing left that resembles the original throat
cutting, vengeance swearing, masonic order left in it.
That's what I went through my first time.
it freaked me out the first time too. The washing and
anointing was fine because my Stake President told me
a bit about it.
the washing and anointing ordinance, they gave me the
packet of other clothes stuff and I wondered what was
in it. I was scared to look in because I had no clue what
was going on. So, I waited until everyone else did.
my father told me to take my watch off because "There's
a lot of switching robes around." That wasn't what
I was expecting.
we put the temple robes on, I thought we were at a Toga
Party or something.
secret temple handshakes and passwords were what really
freaked me out though. God needs handshakes? I thought
he knew us enough to just let us through the veil into
was 20 years old and didn't have a clue. I had no preparation
class and was confused and supervised. I told my husband,
that no wonder the rest of the world thought we us Mormons
were a peculiar people. If they knew what we did, they
would be surprised.
going through the temple the first time, I thought in
a way, we were no different then the holy rollers, or
tried to go to the temple and feel the spirit. I tried
to get into it and memorize the secret handshakes and
the passwords. But I couldn't help wondering why I
had to have a password with God, why I had to obey my
husband as he obeyed the Lord.
death penalties scared me, afraid that I would slip up
and then I would have to wait for the angel of death.
also didn't understand that if God loved me, and I was
doing what he wanted, would I have to worry about my throat
the angel of death or whoever would slit my throat, who
would take care of my children. Would they be damned because
I would be in eternal hell?
I wasn't supposed to question. "Sunflower, don't
worry, as long as you obey you won't have to worry about
it was always there.
biggest question which I still don't have an answer to
is why they gave me a new name? Why couldn't the name
I had been given at birth be good enough? If I lived the
law of the gospel and knew God and He knew me, wouldn't
I know him when he called me?
heard my name given to me in the temple once, and spoke
it once, but remember it always. Never to be spoken again
until I was called from the grave.
what was the biggest thing I learned in the temple?
question, just obey.
to surfing the Internet, I knew what was going to happen
in the temple ahead of time.
wish the church could get Hollywood to make the temple
movie. Was anything so boringly repetitious? "Shall
we go down?" "Yes let's go down blah blah.."
over and over. Is it any wonder Satan was the most interesting
character in the temple?
two hours of clothing arrangement and changes without
a mirror, and secret signs and symbols and tokens, oh
my. It was a two hour lesson on how to get past heaven's
gate. I don't mind going to the temple to do baptisms
for the dead. But I have resisted going back for another
temple ordinance session. How do people do it week after
hate to say this, but my first time I couldn't stop giggling.
The whole thing was bizarre to say the least. But when
I saw my husband in that goofy bakers hat the first time
I got a case of the giggles that wouldn't stop.
husband is a sharp dresser. He was the first guy in our
ward to buy snappy white suspenders to accent his temple
costume. He had to have the least-ugly white silk tie
and bought his white slacks at a golf shop. They were
always well pressed. But he never could find a way to
improve that ridiculous bakers hat.
was pretty weird to see a room full of men in baker's
hats and women in covered in veils doing the slashing
motions of the temple covenant penalties. I struggled
keeping a straight face.
startled me about the temple ritual was when Satan himself
warns the temple audience that if they don't go along
with the rituals that they will be in his power. In other
words it's like Satan is saying:
better go along with the Mormon God, or I'll get you!"
why is Satan siding with God and the Mormon Church? I
thought Satan was the father of all lies, the Grand Deceiver,
the sworn enemy of God. Instead Satan actually agrees
with the Mormon temple rituals! He actually endorses them!
the rites were really God's truth, then wouldn't Satan
be trying to talk everyone out of them? If I pray to Satan
to ask him what I should do, would he answer: "Be
a good Mormon or I'll get you?"
temple endowment made me wonder, whose side is Satan actually
on? Apparently he's on the Mormon Church's side - that
is, if you take the temple ceremony seriously.
just follow Satan's advice if you want to be a good Mormon.
That's what I learned in the temple.
my first time was before the big ordinances changes in
1990. I was waiting for the chicken sacrifice after that
"pay-lay-ale" chant. As we stood in the prayer
circle in our temple clothes with our hands raised, I
looked around and thought "oh no, I'm in a cult!"
that point I fully expected them to pull out a live chicken,
place in on the temple altar and whack the head off.
I freaked the first time too. Then nobody would talk with
me about it, because we were all under death oaths of
whole temple secrecy thing bugs me. We're supposed to
share the gospel, but apparently only part of it, because
we don't want people to know how creepy and goofy it really
come to believe that any religion that cannot stand up
to public scrutiny is not worth standing up for.
church of Jesus Christ should have people worrying about
slitting their throats or ripping out their guts. I'm
so glad they removed that from the temple ordinance in
the pre-1990 temple ceremony was a little freaky.
a convert and had nobody to tell me anything about what
to expect before I went to the temple. All I knew was
the quote by Brigham Young about what the endowment was.
was freaked out by the temple experience.
I can't understand is how the church members and General
Authorities claim that Blood Atonement was not an official
doctrine of the church. Excuse me, but the pre-1990 temple
penalties were covenants to commit blood atonement.
can understand how a Mountain Meadows Massacre can happen
when church members took those gruesome temple death oaths
seriously. We're all better off now that they are removed.
off the bat, I realized that the "temple preparation"
classes were a total waste of time, because they didn't
tell you squat about the actual temple ceremony.
went by bus - left at 5:00 p.m. on a Friday night and
arrived at the temple at 5:00 the next morning. This,
of course, really helped the mental acuity angle.
of the missionaries who taught me had told me that there
is a "test" that you must pass before you will
be allowed to leave the temple. So I was pretty keyed-up
we got to the lecture just before the veil test, I was
laser-focused. Then at the temple veil I felt belittled
by the elderly man on the other side who kept telling
me to "repeat after him." I kept saying "no,
man, I think I've got it. Let me do it myself." Finally,
a friend who was with me told me not to get into an argument
with this guy playing the role of God.
whole temple clothing-shuffling bit was very unnerving
of all, I think, was that the whole thing made me wonder
what was wrong with me - why didn't I "get it"
like everyone else seemed to? (Looking back, I wonder
now how many else were pretending they were getting it.)
I "got it," I felt betrayed.
take pride in my memorization skills. I got to the point
I could lip sync the whole temple ceremony, and initiatory
used to prompt or correct the guy playing God on the other
side of the veil when he messed up his lines.
finally became a veil worker, first in the Washington
DC temple, then in the Salt Lake Temple.
was back in the pre-1990 days when they had the full "five
points of fellowship" in the ceremony. I think that
was the most physical contact some faithful women ever
got. As I played the role of God, the ladies held me real
close through the veil and pressed their knee against
my thigh. I wonder what they were feeling?
been 15 years since I last attending the temple, but I
can still repeat verbatim the magical phrase needed to
get through the veil and enter the celestial room, which
represents to top level of heaven.
find this interesting because my wife tells me she knows
the church is true because she forgets all the mystical
phrases as soon as she leaves the temple. For her it's
truly a sign!
was one of those unfortunate members born early enough
before the 1990 gory covenants were changed.
my first time through the temple I was freaked, wondering,
is this a cult? If so, don't give in, but keep quiet.
I raised my hand for the oaths like everybody else and
said, yes, but each time, inside mentally recited NO!
haven't thought about me first temple session in awhile.
It was in the Salt Lake Temple, live session, pre-1990.
experience was so hyped up, especially the final destination,
the Celestial Room. When I got there I was like, okay,
fancy room, yes, so what gives?
me the grand finale, the great prize, the spiritual enlightenment.
Nope. Nothing. Just clueless people like me in weird white
clothes making oaths of secrecy.
the most profound and confusing gospel questions can be
asked, and answered, in the Celestial Room. That's not
what I found. All I ever got was answers like, that hasn't
been revealed, we don't know that, God's ways are not
man's way, etc...
went to the temple quite a few times after my first year
in the church. Having no preconceived notion of what to
expect I was not horrified by anything performed back
then in 1977 at the Salt Lake Temple. I had nothing to
compare the ceremony to before I attended.
really couldn't grasp what was going on. I didn't get
it. The temple ceremony just wasn't coherent to me. I
expressed my feelings of boredom to my new circle of devout
Mormon friends. They told me to continue to attend the
temple as often as possible, so I would be blessed with
something new each time I went.
converted to Mormonism as my new faith and I was going
to try my best to do my duty to follow God, which would
then bring blessings on my wife and first born son. So
I went to the Salt Lake Temple probably six times that
year and to the Provo Temple twice. I was told that if
I went often enough I would begin to understand what it
was all about.
am capable of daydreaming through anything when I get
bored so it became true, each time I attended the temple
I got something new out of it. Great and wonderful things
which I would ponder as I tuned out all of the pathetically
stupid things going on in the temple ceremony while listening
to my own intelligent inner thoughts. Of course, I thought
the holy spirit was giving me all of those wonderful thoughts
even though I've been that way all my life.
in the very early eighties I realized that going to the
temple was a huge waste of my time. So I stopped going.
I didn't attend a session for more than ten years. Then
I was called into the bishopric in the late eighties and
served as the bishop's First or Second Counselor for many
years. Still I refused to attend.
when I was called as the Bishop did I finally go back
to the temple. I still didn't get it, but had to be a
good example so I'd go about once a year.
don't regret not spending more time on that meaningless
1800s mind bending ritual. Spending that time with my
family brought us more happiness.
remember being nervous but optimistically hopeful before
I went through the temple for the first time.
remember wanting to have some clue of what to expect and,
of course, my loved ones would only say that it was "wonderful,
spiritually enlightening, and the closest thing to heaven
that exists on this earth." I halfway took that,
in my own mind, to mean that Jesus would be there in person.
What else could be so sacred that we could not talk about
it, even with other worthy temple Mormons? Maybe, I thought,
that was why we had to be sworn to secrecy....if other
people knew Jesus Christ was actually in the temple they
would storm storm the temple to get in and see him and
it would create a mob scene? (I admit, I was painfully
naive and trusting of the church at that time and these
scenarios I came up with in my mind seemed real.)
It would have been creepy to get naked
and be touched by a stranger and then have them dress
you in hideous underwear even without the bait-and-switch
atmosphere, but I think the way they set it up so you
go in there being told it's going to be a wonderful exeperience,
and then having it be something that's awful, and then
having to reconcile in your mind the temple
oaths and learning weird code words and making sure
all your temple clothes are on and tied just right and
being naked are the things that are monumentally important
to Heavenly Father adds to the disappointment and the
confusion and the questions later.
The senior citizen temple worker who did
the temple initiatory ordinance on me tried to be very
non-invasive as it was obvious I was having trouble dealing
with having to comply with orders to get naked and stand
there and let them do their thing. The temple worker tried
to get it done quickly and gave only the lightest of touches
and I think tried to be somewhat "vague" in
where the skin contact was actually made so as to give
me a fraction more personal space consideration. But it
was still horrifying to me that my Lord and Savior thought
this was something necessary for me to be let into heaven.
top it all off, after going through the whole temple endowment
ceremony and going into the Celestial Room, thinking this
had not been spiritual or special and that I now questioned
what kind of church would act like this, my loved ones
were waiting there for me and in hushed tones were gushing,
"Wasn't that special? Don't you feel so close to
the Lord here?" No, I didn't.
When I said that I didn't, sitting there
in the temple Celestial Room, my parents gave me a lecture
about "speaking evil of sacred things" and was
rushed out of there. My otherwise sane loved ones claiming
to have enjoyed the experience and gotten spiritually
carried away by it added to the storm that was raging
in my heart.
are my thoughts on my pre-1990 temple endowment.
having been felt up by older men in a stuffy sheeted cubicle
next to other stuffy cubicles and hearing the mumbling
of initiatory ordinances being done over, there I was
ready for anything. It got more and more strange as my
temple day went by.
came out of the washing and anointing ordinance and my
dad was there beaming happily, "Isn't that POWERFUL?",
I really wanted to answer was "Are you crazy, Dad?
I mean... are you nuts? I just got felt up and basically
molested by an old man with you standing outside the door
sanctioning his every move!"
I said, "Yeah, that was spiritual."
that there was the ushering me here and there, the changing
into my temple uniform. The old man pulling me into that
tiny cloaked room. He put his face in mine and whispered
to me "And the neeeeew naaaame issss..."
old man did not brush his teeth because his breath reeked
and nearly turned my stomach over. Gee, man. Colgate?
Crest? Ever heard of them? I swear the tiny room we were
in filled up with a stench and I was so glad to get out
shuffle again up to the temple waiting room chapel....
the Book of Mormon...
fidgeted with his temple packet...
wanted to look inside my packet. All I knew was that I
was going to have to wear a costume of some sort and that
this costume included robes that were very holy and sacred.
I was very curious.
organ music soothed me. It tied me back to the my Mormon
religion prior to that day that I was so familiar with.
I was off kilter because what I was going through thus
far in the temple was nothing close to the Mormon religion
I had been practicing for that last 19 years.
of this was so new, so bizarre.
single file, walking silently, we were lead to the endowment
were dimmed slightly and a voice floated above me in the
ceiling telling me that God will not be mocked and that
if I wanted to withdraw from having to take on these covenants
I should do so now. There was even a pause.
wondered how I could make that judgment call when I did
not even know what I would be covenanting myself to. Nobody
stood up to leave. I guess we were all anxious and willing
to make these covenants!
enjoyed the first part of the endowment. I mean, it was
cool that I could become an exalted king next to my exalted
queen wife some day in yonder heaven. The ruler of my
own worlds, with my celestial queen. There was a certain
romantic notion to it.
then the movie started. There was little Jesus but plenty
of Satan. I didn't enjoy being threatened by Satan:
you do not walk up to every covenant made in this temple
this day... you will be in MY power."
creeped me out. I saw through it. That was such a threat.
hoped that the gospel covenants I was going to be making
were simple ones... you know, not too hard because I wanted
to live up and keep them so that I would not have to be
in Satan's powers.
then, upon penalty of slitting my bowels, my chest, and
my throat, covenanted to give all my life... my talents
and everything that the Lord had blessed me with to the
building up of God's kingdom here on earth.
was I going to keep that covenant? That meant that I was
now a slave. Mormon Church first and everything else in
my life second. Church above my future wife, future kids,
my career, my money, myself.
was so much room for me to fail. Such a wide berth there.
I felt very uneasy.
ordinance of slashing myself was horrifying. I recall
looking around the room with a "please make this
ride stop I want to get off the ride" look all over
my face. But there were my grandparents, my uncles my
aunts, my sister and her husband, my mother... my sweet
mother was slashing herself! What was I getting involved
came the prayer circle and chanting at the altar. The
monotone chanting that came after a repeat of the slashing
death oaths only this time we all stood in a circle around
the altar slashing ourselves.
admit that I found some humor in it. I am a funny guy.
I have a sense of humor and it did not fail me that first
day at the temple.
did laugh inside when it was demonstrated that everyone
in the room was supposed to raise their hands above their
heads and chant "PAY... LAY... AAAALE!" (hands
lower from above head to my sides)
was just a little too weird for me. How could this be
holy or sacred in any way shape or form of the word?
was just no way.
I tried. I honestly tried. I whittled myself down over
years of temple attendance to try to fit into that mold
prepared for me. It was so uncomfortable.
was a serious Emperor's New Clothes moment each time I
went back through the temple.
"Son, wasn't that just awesome?"
"uh, yeah Dad.. totally."
inside I was screaming "That is not how I would describe
anything remotely awesome!"
it wasn't. The only "awe" about the temple was
that so many of us continued to go back and do it again
and again... and call it sacred, holy... and worshiping
I admit that I had my moments. I admit there were times
when I was finding myself at more frenzied levels of Mormon
commitment where I would come out of the House of The
Lord completely convinced that I had felt the spirit.
feeling was more a sense of satisfaction that had done
my temple attending duty and now could check off one more
requirement for the month's list of "things I gotta
do this month to be worthy of The Spirit."
I was a kid growing up in the church, my Dad would tells
us that we get a secret new name in the temple. He said
he knew Mom's name but she couldn't know his. That way,
he was taught in the temple, he would be able to find
her in heaven. Of course, us being curious kids, we tried
to get him to tells us his name but he never would.
many years later when I went through the temple, I was
disappointed that my new name was not something cool or
unique. Mine was Alma. After all those years of anticipation
and all I get was Alma. I was hoping for something like
I had no idea
was was going to happen to me in the temple before I went
in for the first time on my wedding day.
You are taken to a locker room (think High School PE class).
You get undressed, and are whispered to put the "shield"
(which is nothing more than an open white poncho) on and
then you take your new underear in hand with you to this
shower curtain cubicle.
I was married a log time ago before they removed the slitting-one's-throat
pantomime, the old polygamy-style
one-peice long-john, undies were the "temple
garment" for my initiatory ordinance.
Keep in mind,
this was my wedding day!
I was taught my whole life not to question anything in
the gospel by those I most loved (my mother, aunties,
grandparents, and returned-missionary husband to be),
in I went to peform whatever rituals awaited me.
knew something was wrong with this picture at that moment,
but dared not verbalize it.
The naked touching
began, all in the guise of holiness. I realized in that
moment that everyone in my good Mormon family had gone
through this too. Why didn't they tell me? Then it was
done. The temple worker took the new garment, and held
it open for me to step into. Why? I don't know. (At that
time, all garments were one piece. Perhaps so we did not
fall down from the slick floor?)
back to the locker room to now put my pretty dress over
those polygamist long-john underwear. And this was again...my
wedding day. The first person on one's wedding day to
touch you in the temple is not your husband or wife. After
all those years of being taught not to pet, or touch another
person, the first person to touch your naked body on your
wedding day is a stranger.
This all happened after weeks of "temple
preparation classes" which didn't included any fair
warning, just a lot of information on how critical and
important the temple is and how you're not going to be
saved if you don't go.
Because no one would talk to me about
what goes on in the temple specifically, I was a little
concerned that I would be asked to do something I was
I expressed my concerns to my mother and
others and was assured that nothing goes on that would
make me the least bit uncomfortable-- it's just spiritual
and uplifting and wonderful...
So I get there, all fired up and ready
to be completely obedient, and then they ask me to do
something completely humiliating that is a gross violation
of my personal dignity.
family and closest friends are there, so unless I want
to disappoint everyone I care about, I'm stuck letting
strangers lay greasy fingers on me while pronouncing blessings.
It's no wonder they changed
that temple ordinance in 2005. Why couldn't they have
changed it sooner, before I went through that ordinance
I was a nineteen
year old boy about to enter the MTC. My parents were very
excited about me going to the temple. For my mother, it
was, I believe, a way for her to see herself as a successful
night before I rested in my bed wondering what my experience
would be like. The big moment was going to happen! I was
to finally learn the great secrets of the temple.
had always been taught that the temple was the holiest
place on earth, that Jesus walked its halls, that angels
frequently appeared there. I had an uncle who swears that
his deceased brother appeared to him in the temple and
had a conversation with him regarding why he died and
what he was doing in the Spirit World. All these things
raced through my head. I felt in awe about entering a
place where heaven and earth literally co-existed.
dressed in our white clothes and sorted through our temple
robes and aprons making sure that we had everything. Once
our guide made sure we hadn’t left anything we followed
him to the front row of endowment room. I sat down with
mydad, next to another new missionary who was sitting
next to his dad. I was very surprised that all the men
had to sit on one side and all the women on the other.
I didn’t quite understand this separation.
From the other
side of the room, My mother beamed with pride. I saw her
smiling over at me. I saw uncles and aunts whom I had
seen in years wearing white clothing. My sister and her
husband were present. Then the endowment presentation
presentation of the creation was disappointing. This was
the endowment? Then we started receiving handshakes, making
signs and learning death penalties. I was blown away.
This seemed like a secret combination to me. I had a sick
feeling in my stomach. It seemed that the Book of Mormon
had warned against such secret combinations which used
handshakes. I was a bit confused. I looked over at my
mom and she had a nervous apprehensive look on her face.
I understood why. I knew that at the end of the session
I would have to repeat all of these handshakes and password.
So I focused myself on remembering all that I could.
the presentation dragged on. The elderly temple workers
performed their roles. I thought it was strange that an
actor played the part of the devil, who seemed to have
a significant role in the presentation. I was somewhat
fascinated by his apron and the symbols on it. I wondered
what they represented. In later years they changed the
apron Satan wears to a plain grey one. I guess all those
symbols on it drew too much attention.
We moved from
room to room. By the time the presentation was nearly
complete I was frightened that I hadn’t really understood
my religion sufficiently. What had I missed that had failed
to prepare me for the sacredness which I was not seeing?
I felt worthy going in, but the temple didn’t feel
that morning, I had wondered how many in the session were
deceased people. I really did believe that there was no
separation of living and dead in the temple. I had assumed
that angels were there too.
the end of the session, we were told that we would be
presented to the Lord at the veil. I had missed the explanation
that just a temple worker would be performing this part.
My name was called and I was escorted up some steps to
the veil. I looked for Jesus’ hand to reach through
the curtain. My heart was beating quickly. Out came the
hand of an old man, with no scar from the crucifixtion.
Within moments I realized that Jesus really wasn’t
repeated all the information back, making the handshakes
and giving the secret passwords with the help of a temple
worker. I passed through the veil into the beautiful celestial
room of the Salt Lake City temple. It was full of people
dressed as unusual as I was. What an eerie sight. My parents
were already there. My mom was shining as her two sons
came to her. My dad didn’t respond much but seemed
to want to talk about the room decor instead of my experience.
happy. But inside I was confused. The experience was different
than what I had anticipated. My mother explained that
I needed to go often to understand it better. After a
few minutes, we left and returned to the locker room where
I shed my robes for my suit, attired now in my garments.
When we left,
I was afraid.
the strangeness of the temple wore off. Repeated visits
makes it all seem normal. But one thing never changes,
the look of people’s faces in the session company.
As a temple worker later in my life, I would often look
at the faces of those attending. Nearly all of them had
an empty look. No smiles, no interest, no nothing. We
all just sat there enduring to the end. I also saw the
nervous looks of mothers whose sons attended for the first
time. It always reminded me of that day in 1985.
the history of the LDS Temple Endowment:
Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship