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My Temple Experience, Afterword

Posted by nebula0 on September 4, 2008


The following doesn’t contain anything that should offend Mormon sensibilities concerning temple secrecy.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on my first time through the temple these past couple of weeks.  I remember the palpable excitement that I felt for the couple of weeks leading up to that Saturday, so great that I had dreams about what the experience would be like.  I thirsted for more, something deeper and felt that I would get it in the temple.  It’s no secret that Mormon sacrament meetings and General Conferences tend to be snoozers, the exact same information is pored over again and again.  The lesson manuals for Sunday School and Priesthood/Relief Society meetings included blase quotations from past leaders over topics as riveting as paying tithing, what is faith, and magnifying your calling.  There isn’t a corpus of great theological thinking in Mormonism to draw on, and the everyday Mormon experience reflects that, at least it did for me and it left me parched.  By the time I made it to the Celestial Room in the temple was I satisfied?  I don’t know exactly.  I was befuddled.  Around me everyone was dressed so strangely, people I knew, I felt as if we were in another world- and I realized that perhaps that was part of the point.  What did satisfy me, then, was that I had little idea as to what I had just experienced.  What did it all mean?  I was happy to have a challenge, I was happy to know that I’d have to come back again and again on behalf of the dead to try to learn the ceremony well enough to glean understanding from it.  And, I did.  I lost count after a year.  For a while it was the most enjoyable thing to me about being a Mormon.  I liked being there, even though I wished they didn’t put fake plants in the chapel, how distracting is that?, but I liked the calm, I liked the whispers, I liked the mystery most of all.  And, I admit it, I enjoyed being a part of the club.  I liked knowing that I was one of the privileged few even amongst Mormons who knew exactly what happened behind those curtained windows and sliding glass doors.  I enjoyed the secret of the garments and began actively trying to make out garment lines on other Mormons that popped through their outer clothing.

When I consciously cut back on my activity in the LDS church, I missed the temple most of all, but my doubts about the historical and theological underpinnings about Mormonism restrained me from going even though I had a recommend in my wallet.  When they switched to the barcode format for the temple recommend cards, I did not get mine renewed.

So do I regret having put my story online?  No I don’t, not at all.  One thing that has become clear to me is that the secret of the temple kept me active in the church for longer than I would have stayed with out it.  I enjoyed the club and the mystique and the mystery enough that I ignored my growing doubts about the the truth claims of Mormonism.  The temple isn’t the only element of my life that encouraged me to put aside my doubts, at least for a moment, but it was an element.  My hope is that by providing specifics that the curiosity of others can be quenched so that they can look at Mormonism face to face and not have the mystique and allure of secrecy blur their view as it did mine.

The other reason I have chosen to post my story online and so aid the normalization of temple secrecy is to quench the fires of sensationalism.  People are not being harmed psychologically or otherwise through these ceremonies.  Discomfort should not be equated with abuse as it too often is when ex Mormons think back on their experiences.  It was unusual and confusing, no doubt, but it was not sinister.

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