Temples: Service, Education, Ward, or Remembrance?

Recently I’ve made some effort to go to the temple more often. The goal is to go multiple times a month, either to an endowment or initiatories. Since I live about 7 minutes away, this is actually a do-able goal.

Do I learn by going to the temple? Absolutely. Not every time, but on occasion if I pray and focus enough I will gain an insight into the ceremony and how it relates to us and God. But these are infrequent enough to be only a secondary benefit.

I also help others by doing temple work, but I admit that since I currently have no family names, I dwell on this aspect only sporadically.

For me, the temple’s primary gains come in remembering, in the way that the sacrament is supposed to function. I remember my covenants and relation to Christ and God and re-affirm those commitments. I evaluate how I am doing and how I can do better. Perhaps if I were more successful at doing these things during the sacrament, some of the other purposes of the temple might be more central. But I actually have a pretty rough time making sacrament time as effective as temple time. I am easily distracted by everything going on around me (by which I mostly mean my children) and I cannot get in the mode quickly enough to do what I can do in the temple. The temple ceremony’s length becomes an advantage. And since I know I am going nowhere for an hour and a half, and I know exactly what is going to happen in that time, I can engage in the ritual even as I relax and contemplate how to improve.

I also found it interesting that Elder Oaks, in his talk on pornography, specifically mentioned the power of temple worship in resisting temptation:

“Remember your covenants and be faithful in temple attendance. The wise bishop I quoted earlier reported that ‘an endowed priesthood bearer’s fall into pornography never occurs during periods of regular worship in the temple; it happens when he has become casual in his temple worship'”

What aspects of temple worship do you most benefit from, or wish you were better at?

16 comments for “Temples: Service, Education, Ward, or Remembrance?

  1. Mark Simmons
    May 20, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    I could tell you, but then I wouldn’t get anymore out of it for myself(http://www.millennialstar.org/index.php/2005/05/18/p738#more738).

  2. May 20, 2005 at 5:18 pm

    I find that I learn the most if I am well rested. I suppose that for me the ritual is helpful because there are so many imponderables involved. I don’t feel like I ever really understand what is going on and that itself is something that I think I am supposed to learn.

  3. HL Rogers
    May 20, 2005 at 5:24 pm

    Frank, spot on. One of my progfessors at BYU, when he was bishop administered the sacarement once by passing slices of bread and cups of water to everyone. The partaking of the sacrament took almost the entire meeting. He ended by speaking briefly on the importance of remembering our covenants and making sacrament a time of such reflection. In many ways, I feel the temple functions like this sacrament meeting (he was the bishop of a freshman, mainly unendowed ward). Instead of a brief 15 minutes or so we get a couple hours to sit and ponder the atonement and other important aspects of eternal salvation.

    Too bad you won’t get anything from the temple with all that evil econ running through your head. oh well…

  4. HL Rogers
    May 20, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    I’m actually quite unsure what a progfessor is–but I am conjuring some good images.

  5. Frank McIntyre
    May 20, 2005 at 5:55 pm

    I just got lectured on the evils of economics……from a closet Marxist?!

  6. Miranda PJ
    May 20, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    I wish I were better about motivating myself to attend the the temple. It’s more than 2 hours distant, and I have some pretty sorry temple baggage. I did my endowment before my mission, and it was an odd experience. Not because of the foreign feeling of the ceremony, but because a few things kind of freaked me out. The temple matron went on at length about how it was OK to cut the crotches out of your garments and replace them when they wear out, because that part of the garment wears out faster than the rest. Unfortunately, this image stayed with me through the remainder of the ceremony. In my first experience at the veil, the temple worker was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear what I was saying. No matter what I said, I had to say it again and again, and the helper next to me couldn’t tell where he expected us to restart from. It was very repetitive and confusing. It took several minutes that just seemed like an eternity. I was already self-conscious about the entire procedure. After this I was dripping with sweat. I’ve never been able to completely shake the anxiety this caused.

  7. HL Rogers
    May 20, 2005 at 8:16 pm

    But remember Marxism is just the United Order … unperfected (oh, and a little less bloddy).

  8. May 20, 2005 at 8:23 pm

    Er, which is the “bloddy” one again?

  9. HL Rogers
    May 20, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    I remember something about spell-check being the next Marxism–man I sure could use some of it now!

  10. AlexG
    May 21, 2005 at 6:40 am

    I agree with you Frank. The temple has provided a lot of learning experiences and personal revelation. I enjoy going to the temple, even though its a two and a half hour drive. I go there twice a month, and enjoy doing every bit. When going to the temple, I try to prepare myself by singing a hymn, or thinking about scriptures but mostly thinking about the Saviour and his Atonement and what does that apply to me, in specific. President Hinckley has also said that if we were more temple oriented, a lot of the effects of the societal evils would be negligible among Latter Day Saints. I really believe this. No couple can kneel at the altar serving as proxy without feeling inspired to do better as a marriage. As I hear the blessings that are stated, I have resoluted in my mind to do my very best to make my marriage work. The blessings stated to the sons are also beautiful. Whilst a lot of members go to the temple for the endowment, I like to do some initiatories, because I find the blessing’s spoken there to be very powerful and protective.

    Miranda PJ: Serving as a temple worker I feel sorry that you have had such “anxiety” when you went for the first time through the temple. Temple workers are there to ‘enhance’ the spiritual experience that is participating in the ordinance of the House of the Lord. I hope that in subsequent visits to the temple, the anxiety and panic have reduced. I hope that, whenever you can attend the temple, you have joy serving there. So far as I know, you only repeat if you have either omitted or added words and you do not have to do it all over again if you make one mistake. Hope that your next trip to the temple would be a pleasant one!


  11. annegb
    May 21, 2005 at 11:54 am

    I was pretty stupid the first time I went to the temple, I thought I was actually going to see God. When they said, “go through the veil,” I thought I was. It took me awhile to get over the disappointment. Now I always tell people, “you probably won’t see any extraterrestial beings.”

    The biggest thing I’ve noticed in my temple attendance the last few years, other than it seems to be getting increasingly more sporadic, is the peace, the ease, which comes over me.

    I often go in with the weight of the world on my shoulders and come out relaxed and feeling I can go on awhile longer.

  12. LoneWriter
    May 21, 2005 at 12:19 pm

    My husband and I do sealings once a month, as part of a sealing team. We find that this short time in the temple — about 2 hours total — brings peace and harmony to our lives for the rest of the month. (We don’t do endowments often any more because of his health — he can’t sit in one room for the length of time required.)

    We have had many spiritual experiences as part of our sealing team. No, we have never seen “extraterrestial beings,” but we have felt them with us on many occasions. One that I will never forget — as the sealing between husband and wife was completed, I felt compelled to say, “I love you, Diego.” I truly felt the couple there, and knew the love that the woman had for her husband.

    And Miranda — I also was very naive when I received my endowments. No one in my family had ever been to the temple (well, except for a great-great-grandfather in Nauvoo, but I don’t think that counts), and I knew very little about the ceremony or what was involved. This was in 1972, when the “temple preparation course” they teach now was not available. I was told just to talk to another endowed member if I had any questions.

    It was a 1500 mile trip to the nearest temple, and it was two years before I was able to return. My second trip was miserable — I had many of the same experiences that you describe. It was another eight years before a temple was built in our area, and I was able to attend again.

    Frequent visits to the temple (I live 10 minutes away — 20 if the traffic is bad) have helped me. They more you visit the temple, the more you learn two truths: 1) The temple is the holiest place on earth, and within its confines you can gain peace and knowledge unavailable anywhere else, and 2) The temple is operated by loving but fallible people. If all temple workers were perfect, they wouldn’t be on earth any more.

  13. Costanza
    May 22, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    Because our Sunday church services tend to be so busy and, let’s face it, chaotic, I have found in the temple a place where I can enjoy the tranquility and liturgical richness that is so often missing from the three hour block. I appreciate the practical side of our religion–teaching, service, tending kids, etc–and it makes me all the more thankful for the more transcendent experiences of the temple (which, of course, simply motivate me to strive harder in my more “mundane” work on the earth).

  14. JKS
    May 23, 2005 at 6:27 pm

    Miranda PJ,
    My first temple excusion wasn’t quite as traumatic as yours. However, have the temple worker whack me when I said the wrong thing was a little jolting. It was a light whack, I admit, but I wasn’t accustomed to corporal punishment and it caused some anxiety that lingered for quite some time.

  15. annegb
    May 23, 2005 at 6:49 pm

    JKS, that made me laugh.

    My husband picked up the wrong card once and went through for a woman named Martha. He thought there might be something wrong, but then he thought, “oh well, people name their kids strange things.” He asked about it when it was all over and sure enough, it was a girl. None of the veil workers noticed either.

    Now they put pink cards for women and blue for men, I assume he wasn’t the only one.

  16. May 26, 2005 at 4:04 pm


    When examining old records and finding names of people for whom temple work may be done it is sometimes difficult if not impossible to distinguish if a person listed is a male or a female. The instructions to the workers collecting the information is: when in doubt, mark them male. There is only one additional ordinance men receive, and they are told that the additional ordinance will simply be ignored and that the work for them is valid, and will be worked out on the other side.

    I have done initiatories for “men” named Martha and Marideth.

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