Temples and testimony

Temples and testimony

I spent Easter Sunday in Jerusalem and thus I have many spiritual insights to draw upon. One of the highlights of my trip was getting to visit and pray in front of the western wall/Kotel.

Jews believe that this wall as the last remnant of the temple hold in perpetuity the presence or Shenkinah of the Lord. Once the temple is fully restored when the messiah comes the lord’s presence will be restored to its fullness and glory as sacrifices and temple work will resume.

The feeling of spiritual connection that I felt while visiting the Western Wall today was quite similar to that I experience as I stand and pray outside the temple. I felt a sharp sense of presence and a powerful spirit. Certainly, this was a sanctified place and the presence of the lord shone brightly.

Yet, this experience made me more fully appreciate the amazing blessing of restoration we have been given. For almost a year, the outside of the temple was all that I could get. I traveled to the temple for comfort and solace as I traveled the long and difficult road towards my eventual baptism. I still tend to go to the temple grounds for prayer and comfort. Thus, the temple mount is truly a blessing to the Jewish people and the people of Israel altogether. Being able to stand outside of the house of the lord is an unspeakable blessing!

Yet, I am also so thankful that we are able to go in to the temple and perform sacred ordinances. We are truly priests of the most high god and therefore capable of going into his house. I am thrilled to be able to perform work in the temple and not merely stand outside it as a passive observer. Because Jesus Christ is the high priest, I have access in a way that I never otherwise would have.

Paralleling this incredible experience, I found out that a really good friend of mine has left the church precisely in large part because of her experience as a temple worker. This has been a real shock to me because she is someone that was a spiritual mentor to me at times when I studied abroad in London. I have a sense of guilt because I got her involved in some of the apologetic discussions that I had with some friends I met in London and wonder whether that contributed to her disenchantment.

This experience really scared me because my friend had gone through the temple for her endowment years ago and had not been disenchanted by the ceremony as some are. Instead, it was her work as a temple worker that led her to view the temple as a exclusive social club and a pyramid scheme ( In her own words). She would not go into detail because she still views the covenants she made as sacred which I was pretty happy to see. I am worried that I will go through the temple, serve a mission, disenchant and upset all of my family only to return and find some secret that makes me lose my faith. Do any of my readers have any advice either for talking to my friend or any clue what could be so disillusioning about the process.

( I know of some minor alleged complaints such as the recycling of baptismal names or the usage of the same name for everyone going through the endowment on a given day but these things do not for me seem to be enough to shatter someone’s faith.)

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One thought on “Temples and testimony

  1. I wouldn’t blame yourself too much for what has happened with your friend. In my experience, people will see what they want to see. Perhaps it was simply a weird relationship with people in the temple that affected her view of how something was done at THAT temple, and not the ceremonies or clerical practices themselves. I struggle myself with the actions of others and having to separate how much of it is just how things go down in certain situations. We aren’t perfect, and the church isn’t perfect. The Gospel is, but we’re far from having it all figured out and carried out with perfection. That’s what we’re here to LEARN to do, and we improve our efforts all the time (even on a church-wide level). In fact, it will be people like you that continue to see where change needs to be made and influence action for good.

    Don’t be afraid of learning difficult information later. I imagine you have already gone pretty far in your studies to get to where you are and the position you are in. Your future reactions will all depend on your ability to see the core of the Gospel at work and what is trying to be accomplished, regardless of people’s blunders along the way. And the endowment will probably be both baffling and completely understandable at the same time at first. Just keep your mind open and look for truth instead of trying to make it fit into the idea you are probably forming in your head already.

    As far as the clerical questions, there are probably answers to those that are easily obtained from temple workers. Those aren’t secrets and are often just the product of humanity doing the best they can and following systems (that may or may not work anymore). I don’t get the feeling that your testimony rests on the possibility of everything going perfectly smooth all the time at the temple, or even that everything they do there makes perfect sense. It may just be that things have had to evolve due to such high volume of work done, and is not ideally the way it would be done otherwise. Don’t worry too much about that stuff.

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