Thursday, April 9, 2015

Discussion: The Temple: Initiatory and The Endowment

WARNING:  In this discussion I will talk about the Temple.  I will quote from the endowment.  I will NOT, out of respect for all those that hold dear and truly believe, be sharing names, signs, or tokens.  Please understand this was a HUGE topic for us to tackle, which we did many, many times.  This is the basis of our conversation.

LDS Church Teachings (and some of my history):

The temple was a beautiful castle.  The place I wanted to be married.  The beauty and elegance was placed in front of me as the ultimate goal.  The place I would get to make covenants with God.

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.

Janice Kapp Perry
Children's Song Book


The place where I could study and learn new wonders of Gods plan and the gospel.  The temple is "a house of learning. There we are taught in the Master's way."  --Elder Russell M. Nelson

So, I did all the things that would allow me to enter the temple:
  1. Pray Always
  2. Read my Scriptures Daily
  3. Keep the Commandments
  4. Be morally clean
  5. Pay tithing
  6. Practice the law of health (WOW)
  7. Have no affiliation with any organization that does not live up to these standards
I held a temple recommend every year since I was 12 years old.  The youth of our ward went often to the temple to participate in Baptisms for the Dead.  When I was old enough to have friends that could drive, we went to the temple to do baptisms weekly.  By this time I was also participating in Seminary 2-3 times per week.  (I had release time for Seminary)  I read my scriptures often.  My youth scriptures looked like this:



Yes, I had a different set of scriptures for different periods of my life.  No, they didn't really shut. Having multiple sets of scriptures was a way for me to see my progression in my scripture studies.  I went to all the firesides I could.  I loved attending the temple to do baptisms.  I really wanted to do all the things I needed to so that I could participate fully in God's greatest blessings.

I received my Endowment in 2005. The Initiatory was interesting, but fine.  The endowment session was nothing new.  It was a reiteration of the Plan of Happiness, with a few extra details.  A lot of standing, sitting, standing, and then sitting again.  We raised our arm to the square multiple times in the exact same manner as is done to sustain church leaders in any other meeting within the church.  Nothing too out of the ordinary.  I did, however, finally understand why people outside of the church would think that we were a cult.  All the standing and sitting and raising of our right hands, it just made sense.  But it was all good, because I knew we were not a cult.  But I could now understand the misinterpretation. 

The temple was beautiful.  The windows, the chandeliers, the furniture, everything. . . gorgeous.  It was quiet and peaceful.  And I remember being disappointed that there was no wonderous mystery revealed to me that day.  But I returned often so that whatever I had missed on that first exciting day, I would not dismiss in future visits.

Sadly, for years I missed them.  I missed the subjugation that I was being placed under.  I missed that my covenants were made with my husband and not my Father in Heaven.  I missed what the temple endowment declares as my eternal role.

Within the Temple Endowment:

to the SISTERS:  "Sisters, you have been washed and anointed to become hereafter Queens and Priestesses to your husbands."

to the MEN:  "Brethren, you have been washed and pronounced clean, or that through your faithfulness, you may become clean from the blood and sins of this generation.  You have been anointed to become hereafter Kings and Priests unto the Most High God, to rule and reign in the House of Isreal forever."

to the SISTERS (indirectly):  "We will form a woman to be a companion and help meet for him."

to the MEN:  (there is no equivalent declaration of companion)

to the SISTERS (indirectly):  "Elohim:  What will you call her?  Adam:  Eve.  Because she is the mother of all living"

to the MEN:  "We give you dominion over all these things, and make you, Adam, Lord over the whole earth, and all things on the face thereof."

declared by the SISTERS:  "Adam, I now covenant to obey the Law of the Lord, and to hearken to your counsel as you hearken unto the Father."  (This is the ONLY time we covenant with any specific person and it's "Adam.")

declared by the MEN:  "Elohim, I now covenant with thee that from this time forth I will obey thy law and keep thy commandments."

From then on, no one seems to covenant with anyone, even God.  We all "covenant before God."  Also, when asked to participate in the True Order of Prayer the women are not allowed to be in Gods presence.  They are asked to cover themselves.  "The sisters in the room will please veil their faces."  And the men are never required to separate themselves from God in any similar manner.

I spent 25 years being told things like:

"Every woman has as certain a right to approach the throne of deity in prayer as does any man.  I am convinced that our Father in Heaven loves His daughters as much as He loves His sons and that He is as ready to hear their pleas and grant their petitions."  -- Gordon B. Hinckley, One Bright Shining Hope, pg. 40

"Rise to the great potential within you."  -- Gordon B. Hinckley, One Bright Shining Hope, Pg. 11

"Be a woman of Christ.  Cherish your esteemed place in the sight of God.  He needs you.  This church needs you.  The world needs you."  --Jefferey R. Holland, To Young Women, Nov. 2005

"He hears your prayers.  He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations.  And He knows what you can become through faith in Him.  Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an "[heir] of God, and joint-[heir] with Christ." --Jefferey R. Holland, To Young Women, Nov. 2005

The Problem:

My Hubby wanted to understand why I didn't want to go to the temple anymore and why it was a touchy subject.

Thoughts and Fears:

What if my Hubby doesn't understand?
What if he thinks I should fill my declared role?
What if he doesn't care?
What if he thinks my reasons are stupid?

The Conversation:

This discussion was filled with a lot of me talking.  Understandably because we're talking about my personal experience and feelings.  My Hubby asked a whole lot of questions and then listened.  We went through all the above mentioned information and SO much more.   My Hubby hadn't previously recognized any of the inequalities, but when would he?  If the men all just pay attention to their part of the endowment, then they would never notice.  And the phrasing of the endowment for both men and women is so similar that they might just assume that we are repeating the same thing they did.  I mean, I don't think I always paid complete attention to what the men were repeating.

The issue was that I was taught of equality for men and women.  An equal partnership in marriage and life.  Then I entered the temple, this supposed miraculous place of peace and joy, only to find that I am not equal.  I don't get the opportunity to covenant with God.  I don't have any interaction with God at all.  I have to have a mediator.  Someone to relay commands and guidance from God to me.   I don't get to choose what I want to be.  We are commanded to be "Queens and Priestesses to your husbands,"  and become a "companion and help meet" to them and to take our place as mother.  In one moment, every dream and aspiration I ever had was taken from me and replaced with my duty to my husband.

This is disturbing to me.  This is a contradiction of teachings.  This is why I cannot attend the temple.  I will not submit to the notion that I am less than.  The notion that I require permission and guidance to speak to the God I was taught loved me for me.  God is described as respecting me as much as He respects my male counterpart.  I am expected to spend my life making and keeping myself "worthy" to be in his presence, the temple, only to find that He demands that I cover myself and never receive instruction directly from Him.  These expressions of women being unworthy is malicious.  And I can't be in a place that causes my heart pain.

What Happened:

My Hubby understood the best he could.  We talked about this often.  My Hubby is an advocate for equality, so he sympathizes in the best way a male Mormon can; loving me and supporting me in my decision not to attend the temple.


5 comments:

Adam Corson-Finnerty said...

Phannie, everything you have said makes perfect sense. Like the Catholic Church (my background)is run by a boys club. You got invited into their special treehouse, but only to be reminded that the treehouse, the tree, and even God belongs only to the boys.

Phannie said...

Yes. Exactly.

Amber Dahl said...

This is something that I have been struggling with for quite awhile and reading this feels like a slap in the face for me. Not from you writing this, but because it makes perfect sense and now where I am at in the time of my life where I feel like I need Him most, apparently this isn't an option for me. Thank you for expressing your feelings. I appreciate knowing that I am not the only one who faces these struggles.

Derek Dahl said...

I completely understand that the temple ceremony can be extremely difficult, if not completely impossible to understand. Only God and perhaps Christ know the true nature of all the preparatory practice that occurs. Most of us make many assumptions, and are extremely arrogant when we are declaring our own "revelation". There was talk about maybe receiving some sort of grand reveal at the end of the ceremony. I know everyone's experiences are different and mileage may vary. I feel like I get exciting reveals in the temple every time I go. My attempt to marry science and my (or any other) religion that believes in god is made so much easier as my mind is opened and the puzzle pieces start to one by one fall into place. I am truly sorry that it has been such a struggle for some to recognize what is obvious to others.

The bottom line for me is, even with all of the symbolic ceremony that occurs, with us putting ourselves in the shoes.... erm maybe sandles, of Adam and Eve we (women included) are so loved by our father in heaven. He in his wisdom and greatness prepared a contingency plan. A plan that ensured our salvation, albeit with the blood of his only begotten paying the terrible price, and even when our agency leads us along a path that is not a part of his plan, as it did when Eve was tricked by lucifer. This, temple, his house here on the earth is for men and women to partake of equally. If someone does not with to follow his plan. Perhaps being the merciful, loving, and just god he is, will create another such contingency plan for his children to return to him. God bless you and your families. I truly hope and pray that everything works out.

I know that god listens to all of our prayers, ESPECIALLY the ones that are coming to him lost and struggling. I am no saint and always feel like a poor leader to my family and a complete failure. I also know that if it weren't for the temple my family would not have been saved and that my life literally would have not been spared multiple times. Everyone must have a mediator to speak with God, Men and women alike. Our mediator is our savior Jesus Christ. He is and will always be our advocate. When needed the most God is always an option. Many times in my life he has been my ONLY option. Blessings don't always come easy. Even if you don't believe in him, He will never give up on you. Just like you would never give up on a child of yours. Your lowest is when he wants to hear from his poor child the most. The most wretched and sick among us are the ones who need to seek God for answers the most.

I'm sorry for the wall of text and rant.I just felt inspired to respond.

Derek Dahl said...

I completely understand that the temple ceremony can be extremely difficult, if not completely impossible to understand. Only God and perhaps Christ know the true nature of all the preparatory practice that occurs. Most of us make many assumptions, and are extremely arrogant when we are declaring our own "revelation". There was talk about maybe receiving some sort of grand reveal at the end of the ceremony. I know everyone's experiences are different and mileage may vary. I feel like I get exciting reveals in the temple every time I go. My attempt to marry science and my (or any other) religion that believes in god is made so much easier as my mind is opened and the puzzle pieces start to one by one fall into place. I am truly sorry that it has been such a struggle for some to recognize what is obvious to others.

The bottom line for me is, even with all of the symbolic ceremony that occurs, with us putting ourselves in the shoes.... erm maybe sandles, of Adam and Eve we (women included) are so loved by our father in heaven. He in his wisdom and greatness prepared a contingency plan. A plan that ensured our salvation, albeit with the blood of his only begotten paying the terrible price, and even when our agency leads us along a path that is not a part of his plan, as it did when Eve was tricked by lucifer. This, temple, his house here on the earth is for men and women to partake of equally. If someone does not with to follow his plan. Perhaps being the merciful, loving, and just god he is, will create another such contingency plan for his children to return to him. God bless you and your families. I truly hope and pray that everything works out.

I know that god listens to all of our prayers, ESPECIALLY the ones that are coming to him lost and struggling. I am no saint and always feel like a poor leader to my family and a complete failure. I also know that if it weren't for the temple my family would not have been saved and that my life literally would have not been spared multiple times. Everyone must have a mediator to speak with God, Men and women alike. Our mediator is our savior Jesus Christ. He is and will always be our advocate. When needed the most God is always an option. Many times in my life he has been my ONLY option. Blessings don't always come easy. Even if you don't believe in him, He will never give up on you. Just like you would never give up on a child of yours. Your lowest is when he wants to hear from his poor child the most. The most wretched and sick among us are the ones who need to seek God for answers the most.

I'm sorry for the wall of text and rant.I just felt inspired to respond.

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