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My Temple Experience

Posted by nebula0 on August 23, 2008


I’m writing this because it’s a topic that just fascinates people.  I understand, it fascinated me too before I did it, and it fascinated me for a few months afterward.  It’s just human nature to wonder what is going on behind closed doors, especially when someone tells you that it’s a secret and you have to join their club to get in.  Anyone see the Southpark in which Cartman inherits a million dollars and buys an amusement park and won’t let anyone in?  Recall how that fact drove everyone crazy with a need to get into the amusement park?  If you ask me, the LDS church is just asking for exposes when they build large, conspicuous temples and then tell people only members with membership cards can get it and know what happens.  So I write this for those curious humans, those anthropologists, who just really have to know what goes on.  I recommend taking a peek at Mormon Theology 101 on this site if you don’t know much about Mormon theology or how the temple endowment ceremony fits in to the larger theology.

(Disclaimer: For active Mormons, even open minded ones, this may make you squirm.  I’m not writing this with the intention of an expose, actually I’m writing this to counter all those exposes out there.  If you ask me, there are too many ex Mormons claiming to have been victimized and violated by the temple rituals, which I find beyond ludicrous.  In view of that, I’m going to tell my tale as best as I can recall it, which involve details.  You’ve been warned.)

I went through the temple about a year and a half after I was baptized and I was very excited by the whole prospect.  I couldn’t wait to get all of the interviews out of the way and find a ride out to the temple.  First you must be interviewed by your bishop who signs your recommend.  The bishop I had at the time was the best bishop that I know of and was very encouraging.  The thing was, there was a policy at work at the time that suggested that unmarried women and unmarried men, especially those who have not gone on a mission, wait until 25 to go through the temple and at the time I was 21 or 22.  Nevertheless my bishop decided to encourage my desire to advance.  Basically the interview goes like this, the bishop asks you a series of questions including: do you have a testimony of Christ, do you sustain the current leaders of the church, do you tithe, do you obey the Word of Wisdom (refrain from coffee, tea, alcohol and tobacco), are you honest with people, do you obey the law of chastity (no extramarital sex) and so forth.  It’s pretty straightforward and you have to be able to answer every question correctly to be worthy to go to the temple.  Then, you have to repeat the exact same process with the stake president, the guy who is right above the bishop in seniority.  After that, your temple recommend has the necessary signatures and you’re declared worthy to go.

Ideally before all this you go through a temple preparation class, which I did.  It’s just a class that is held during Sunday School time on Sundays.  The class actually doesn’t go into details as to what happens during the ceremony, just gives background information.  You can order the temple preparation booklet online at lds.org if you want and a take a peak.  But it does get you excited about things.  Also, if you are preparing to be endowed most likely you’ve been able to do baptisms for the dead at the temple, which I did.  That just whetted my appetite.  You go into the temple but are immediately directed to a side door to the basement, to ensure that you don’t go anywhere but the basement.  That experience is more straightforward than the endowment ceremony.  Basically you can get a special recommend to do it, and it’s easier to get, only the bishopric needs to sign it.  Then you make sure you wear white underwear, don’t go if you are a menstruating female (girls can go too), get there, go the the locker room where you dress into white jumpsuits, get confirmed for dead people that have already been baptized by someone else, get dunked over and over again on behalf of various dead people in that baptismal pool held up by those 12 oxen.  So yeah, it’s definitely interesting, but you know, everyone knows, that the real business is going on upstairs.

Alright, fast forward, I just got my temple recommend signed by the stake president.  He recommends that I go through the temple as quickly as possible.  I have only a couple things left to do, first I need to make an appointment, then I need to choose a guide, someone who has been there, done that to come with me.  Okay, done.  The date is set, a Saturday.  I’m extremely excited.  I get dressed in Sunday clothes, meet up with my companion, and drive to the temple.  I’m forced to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the way there, not my favorite, but I’m not complaining.  We get to the temple, but before we go in there is one more chore.  Behind the temple is a stake center with a Beehive Clothing outlet, run by the church to provide ceremonial clothing.  I go to pick up garments.  Yes, ‘magic Mormon underwear’ does exist.  You are asked to pick up garments before hand to bring to the ceremony, because during the ceremony you’ll be asked to wear them from now on, day and night.  I go and get measured by the older Mormon ladies, dressed up in their Sunday best running the shop and I pick out my designs and fabrics.  At this point I haven’t seen them yet, so you’ll just have to wait to hear more about them until I get to that point in the story.

Garments and temple recommend in hand, we head to the temple.

Alright, this is becoming a novella, so I’ll have to call this part 1 and end it here, in suspense.  If you  have any questions so far, please feel free to post them in the ‘comments’ section.

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