Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Endowment - What Happens Inside The Mormon Temple - Part 2

I have gotten a lot of complaints for posting about the “sacred” things that happen in The Mormon Temple. They are actually just secret things, and you need to be living a “perfect” life to see and do all these things, so people have been a bit butt hurt that I’m sharing them. I wanted to warn everyone this time. This is probably the most secretive and important thing that happens in The Mormon Temple. I’m not going to share every detail, mostly my feelings and a few tidbits here and there. If you want a play by play, a script of exactly what is said, or see a video, there are many out there. (My favorite place for all temple videos Newnamenoah's Youtube)


The biggest, most secret and time consuming thing that happens inside The Mormon Temple is something called “The Endowment”.


To go through the endowment you must be baptized, get a temple recommend (read my post on how to get one), you must also have already done washing and anointings and received garments or mormon underwear (all described in part 1).


Before the endowment session starts you are given a “new name”. The new name you receive is the name you will be called in heaven (this sounded so normal when I was attending the temple, it sounds so silly now). My name was Ruth. You’re told to never tell anyone your new name but I’m pretty sure I won’t get struck by lightning. Plus the name is the same for every woman who goes through the temple that day, it’s nothing special. There is a different name for men. The name is changed daily.


You also need temple clothes. Women wear a completely white dress with long sleeves, a white slip, white knee high stockings, white slippers, as well as your white garments. Men wear a white shirt, white pants, a white tie, a white jacket (optional), white socks, white shoes, and their garments. I always felt hot in all the layers.

You also need an “envelope” (white fabric shaped like an envelope), it will be full of additional clothing items for the endowment. Inside the envelope is, a green apron (a square piece of green fabric with leaves sewn on it, secured at the waist with ribbons), a white sash, a veil for women, a hat for men (the men’s hat looks like a really silly baker's hat), and a robe (which is a pleated rectangular piece of fabric that drapes over one shoulder, then secured at the waist). These will all be put on during the endowment at different times.  


Before the endowment starts you are told if you are not ready to make the promises you are about to make you can get up and leave now. They do NOT tell you what promises they are going to ask you to make! I do not know anyone who has walked out when they heard what some of the promises were, but I’m a little surprised.


During the endowment you will learn the sayings, and secret handshakes to get into heaven. You watch a video about “The Plan of Salvation”, which is basically a plan the Mormons believe God and Jesus came up with to save mankind. Supposedly we used to live as spirits with God in Heaven, but we wanted bodies so we had to come to earth. The story of how Mormons claim God created the earth is told. During the creation of the earth part of the movie, the word “shrubbery” is used twice. If you’re a big fan of Monty Python like my husband you may not be able to contain your laughter. If you can disguise it as coughing fit well enough, you might be handed a small bottle of water.


The story of “Adam and Eve” is also told. After Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit Satan points out their nakedness he tells them to cover themselves with fig leaves. The movie is paused and you are instructed to put on your green leafy apron.


Then Adam and Eve are cast out of The Garden of Eden and need clothes. God found a “coat of skins to cover their nakedness”. Mormon garments represent the same “coat of skins” Adam and Eve were given.


The video continues in parts, with things happening in between, like promises, and putting on the temple clothing. One promise in particular always left a bad taste in my mouth. Women are told to “Harken to the counsel of her husband as your husband harkens to the counsel of the Lord (God)”. (Pre 1990 it only said “Obey your husband”) The women are told to stand raise their right arm, bow their heads and say, “yes” if they promise to “harken to the counsel of your husband”. This is a promise no one tells you will be expected to make, I also don’t know how you would avoid it this far into the endowment.


Men then promise to “Harken to the counsel of the Lord”. They also stand, raise their right arm, bow their heads, and say, “yes”.


Raising your arm, bowing your head, and saying, “yes” with everyone in unison always felt really weird to me. It felt cultish, and kind of robotic. I didn’t and still don’t understand why we need to “obey” like that. The Mormon religion talks a lot about “free agency” and the “right” to choose but really you’re told you can either choose to follow all these rules or you can go to hell. This is what they tell children. I think this is why I grew up with a lot of fear about doing something wrong. As a child you are told from day one, follow the church or you will go to hell.   


Next everyone promises to obey “The Law of Sacrifice.” Adam was supposed to sacrifice the first of his flock in the name of Christ. Once Jesus came and “suffered for our sins” the law of sacrifice was no longer necessary. But you still promise to obey the law like Adam did during the endowment. I was always confused by that. Why did I need to promise to do something that I didn’t need to do? To promise this, you raise your right arm, bow your head and say, “yes” all in unison.


Next you will begin to learn the secret handshakes you need to get into heaven. These would take way too long to explain and get quite confusing. There are plenty of videos and blogs out there that explain the handshakes very well. I will do a quick explanation though.


This photo and the other were taken after
stake temple day, hours before we
conceived Rosalie.
Each handshake is called a “token” they all have accompanying “names, signs, and covenants” A covenant is a promise between you and God. Before 1990 there wasn’t a “covenant” it was a “penalty”. The penalties were death by slicing of the throat, cutting your chest open, and disembowelment, if you ever told anyone.   


Before you learn the second hand shake, you take off your green apron and put on the rest of the clothes in your envelope on, as well as removing your shoes and putting them back on. Then you are taught the second handshake.


Next you remove an article of clothing (the robe) and flip it around for the third handshake. The first time you put it on it was draped over your left shoulder, you move it to your right shoulder.


But first you are asked to “obey The Law of Chastity” which means you will only have “sexual relations” with someone who you are married to. You all raise your right arm, bow your head, and say, “yes”. The Mormon Church talks a lot about sex, but doesn’t explain sex leads to children, or explain the risks of STD’s. You would think they would want to scare you into not having sex but they don’t use any good scare tactics. They teach you if you have sex before marriage your “virtue” is gone, as one of my friends put it, “You’re a piece of chewed spat out gum.” Teens will be teens. They will explore their own bodies and each others. I plan on teaching my children how to safely have sex, because they will get curious, there is NOTHING you can do to stop it.


Next you’re given the third handshake.


Then you promise to “obey The Law of Consecration”. This means you are supposed to give the church ALL your time, talents, “everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you.” All your money, all your things, all your everything. Again you are asked to bow your head, raise your right arm, and say, “yes”.


As children we were taught the law of consecration was a celestial/holy law. We do not live it today because “we are not worthy enough”. This “law” was lived when the church was very small/young from about 1831-1834. Eventually the church stopped practicing this because not everyone was leaving it fully. (stealing things, keeping more than they should etc). Again why are you asked to promise to do something but then not do it?


Then you’re given the fourth and final handshake.


Next is “The prayer circle”, or “The order of prayer”. A number of couples stand and form a circle around the altar. Alternating male, female, male, female. Someone says, if you have any negative feelings about anyone else in the circle you’re supposed to step out so, “the Spirit of the Lord may be unrestrained.” I always had visions of someone decking someone else mid prayer, I mean they wouldn’t say it unless something had happened before, right? The women cover their faces with their vail. The men in the circle are instructed to hold the right hand of the woman on their left (using one of the silly handshakes I mentioned earlier). Then you raise your left arm and rest it on the shoulder of the person to your left. A bag “filled” with the names of those who are sick or struggling is placed on the altar, and they are mentioned during the prayer. A temple worker kneels at the altar and says a prayer. He pauses between each sentence, and everyone in the room repeats the prayer sentence by sentence. Again another part of the temple that felt very cultish. Once the very lengthy prayer is over the women unveil their faces and everyone sits down.


The entire purpose of the endowment is to learn how to get back into heaven. The next part, or the end of the endowment you are coached how to do this. There is a veil (tall white curtains with special holes in it). The holes in the veil correspond with markings in your garments to help you “remember the covenants you made in the temple”. You do the different handshakes through the different holes in the veil. The person on the other side of the veil pretends to be the Lord. There are also a lot of answers you need to remember all associated with the handshakes. It gets quite complicated and a temple worker stands next to you and helps you with all the answers (I went so many times, when briefly reminded, I can still recite all the answers. If Mormon heaven exists this heathen is getting in!). After you have done all the handshakes and repeated the appropriate sayings you are “allowed to enter the Lord’s presence.” You are pulled through the veil lead around the corner to the Celestial room.


The Celestial room is a almost completely white and has comfy couches it’s very quiet and peaceful. The feelings inside the celestial room are wonderful, but they are not special. You get the same feelings in spaces that have the four pillars of luxury (light, space, silence, and comfort). I wrote a post all about why The Mormon Temple is not special.


Going through the temple did not strengthen my faith. I went again and again hoping it would. I went to fit in. I went because it was what I “should do” to be a “good” mormon. I didn’t want to do anything “wrong” and I thought going to the temple a lot would help. It didn’t. Rose was conceived the evening after we had done three endowment sessions at stake temple day.


I hope you enjoyed this post. I really enjoyed writing it. Thanks for reading!

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