A Dialogue with My Soul
From the dawn of time man has gazed into the heavens trying to make sense of life and find answers to these profound questions; "Who am I, where did I come from, why am I here, and where do I go after this life?" I don't profess to know the answers to these questions, and I'm not sure man will ever know. What I do know is that in order to heal and not bond to my wounds, I need to forgive what I cannot forget. I hope this will help me find my way out of bitterness. Forgiving is the most powerful act I can do for myself physically, emotionally and spiritually. Forgiveness frees up the energy necessary for healing. I need to let go of the pain, the hurt and the anger, let go of the past, and let my life unfold.
I had become a caricature of a Mormon persona -- taking on this identity of who I thought Mormonism and the Mormon God expected me to be. The good news is that it no longer needs to be that way. Over several years now I've demystified my belief system and reclaimed my personal identity. (Brackets added)
When Plato wrote The Allegory of The Cave he must have had great insight into human behavior. He wrote in part: "Suppose that this is the only world you have ever known [Mormonism]. You have been chained here in this cave watching the shadows on the walls dance in front of you unable to even turn around. You have no idea they are merely reflections cast [illusions, myths, stories]. You believe they are all that is to life. This is your reality [truth]. Then one day two prisoners [Larry & Tammy] break loose. Drawn to the light they are almost blinded by their first sight of the Sun [emotional freedom]. But little by little they are able to open their eyes and see the world beyond the cave. Once you've seen the light there is no going back."
Are their fellow prisoners thrilled to learn that the real world is out there? Not exactly! As Socrates and Larry discovered, it's a lonely job being the bearer of new ideas. Plato ends the story by saying that they would tear the enlightened ones limb from limb if they could break their chains.
When Larry first approached me with what he had discovered about unsanitized
Church History, I was indifferent to the truth and my days were filled with
anxiety and fear. And then, like the sun showing its face on a new day,
awareness dawned showing me who I am and why I'm here. I found The Gift. I had
taken the journey within and discovered My Authentic Self. A wise person once
said: "If you don't go within, you go without."
My life had been clouded with so many illusions and misconceptions of God,
humanity, and myself. I didn't notice how fogged it was until I washed away all
the untruths I had been taught and accepted. I then peered clearly for the first
time into a startlingly, sharp, bright wonderful world.
I discovered 'The Laws of The Universe' never change. They are solid. But man's conception of them is forever evolving. Religions tend to be a combination of natural laws and man's desires for a certain way of life. Some are based on the need for power, wealth, sex and control. I believe this is what Joseph Smith and his accomplices did, and what some of the leaders of the Mormon Church are doing today.
While I was a Mormon I had a distorted view of God. I obeyed Him out of fear, knowing that if I was disobedient I could lose my family in the hereafter. Like my earthly father, my Heavenly Father had my obedience, but not my love. I'm rediscovering faith in a healthy, sane, balanced God, who loves and accepts me as I am. I believe God has no favorites. There are no elites. And there's no 'One and Only True Church' on the Earth.
My Creator is life expressed as harmony, peace, beauty, joy and abundance through all of us. I have made peace with my God. No more unanswered questions. No more fear or guilt for not being enough, doing enough, or giving enough. And no more fear that we won't be together in the next life. As for Cindy, our deceased daughter, I trust she is in the arms of the Angels. You can't kill or destroy love: it is eternal.
You (the reader) and I have shared this journey together with me confessing my own personal "sellout" of self. I caved into a lifestyle that was not my authentic self. I had neither the courage nor the focus to do anything about it. Mormonism and I had become one. I cheated my children and myself for thirty-one years. I completely ignored my inner voice and lived a life I perceived to be the truth. I gave my power to those I trusted. Fortunately, I eventually reclaimed it. I know what I know now, not because I am smart, but because I opened myself up to receive information that was historically correct. I opened up my heart and soul to truth. In doing so, I try not to place judgment on the Mormon Church. Like an alcoholic who stumbles, falls, slurs his speech, and abuses his children, the Mormon Church will continue to teach racism, sexism, unquestioning obedience, etc. until enough of its members stand up, speak up, and have strength enough to walk away.
I discovered that literacy takes commitment to read and study even when it becomes difficult, change takes effort, and enlightenment takes courage. But if one follows through the rewards are phenomenal. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)
I now see life as a Journey of the Soul. I am stepping away from the life I knew and accepting my new path with all its new twists and turns. Patrick Overton said it well when he wrote the following. "When you walk to the edge of all the lights you have and you take that first step into the darkness of the unknown, you must believe one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for you to stand upon, or you will be taught how to fly."
I am learning how to fly like an Eagle! I feel free to explore who I am. Fear and ignorance had been my choice for too many years. It took courage to take the first step on a different path. There is no more room for fear. I am convinced that I've come full circle now, from my childhood full of fear, and from a belief system, filled with anxiety and fear, to a life in which I am whole.
Loss has been a big part of the Journey, but it has also shown me what is precious. The lessons I have learned have been extraordinary.
1) A life filled with fear is a life half lived.
2) If parents are unable, or unwilling, to give a child the care, love, and security they need, the children can give it to themselves.
3) If there is anything secretive or elite in the teachings of an organization, it is wrong (evil).
4) When I live my life conforming to other people's expectations and rules, I become subservient and loose my identity.
5) There is no way to enlightenment (spirituality). Enlightenment is the way. It's a principle of living rather than seeking.
6) True inner serenity will always elude those who sit in judgment, since they use up their energy judging others.
7) By being honest with myself about what I believe and then acting on that belief, regardless of what others might think or say, I create inner peace and harmony with who I am.
8) When I am practicing kindness, harmony and love; peace shows up right on schedule.
9) Most people are searching for happiness. I was looking for it in someone or something outside myself. This was a fundamental mistake. Happiness is something that I am, and it comes from the way I think.
10) There is not some outward force or power that governs my life, but my own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
11) We are all led to the truth when we are ready.
I discovered my religious breakdown was, in reality, a spiritual breakthrough. I discovered that this painful yet very enlightening journey revealed to me more about myself than anyone or anything else could have. The transformation that has taken place in my life has healed my soul and opened many new and exciting doors. If I could have but one wish, it would sound similar to the song, "If I Had My Way," sung by Vince Gill. "If I had my way, it would be that we'd all love one another; there'd be no more fussing and fighting, no more innocent dying; no one would be hurting; no more hatred and lying; and no more little kids crying; if I had my way."
And so, as I come to the end of The Journey to the Center of My Soul, like Martin Luther King, I have a dream. I envision that someday my children, my grandchildren, and all of humanity will realize that the root ignorance of mankind is separation. I no longer define myself by what religion I belong to, what country I live in, or what race I am. Just like everyone else, I am nothing more, nor anything less than a "Child of The Universe." May all those who have walked beside me on this Journey, find peace and enlightenment on your Journey to the Center of Your Soul.
Tammy J. Braithwaite.
In 1991 my wife, Tammy, and I were serving as set-apart temple workers in the Manti Temple when my life took a 180-degree turn. My testimony of the divinity of the Mormon Church was challenged by some policies and procedures in the Mormon temple that didn't make any sense. Adding to my dilemma was some historical information concerning the first temple ceremony I had received from one of my good friends who had been a Mormon Church historian. These two things, plus some unresolved issues concerning the history and doctrine of the Mormon Church, started me seriously thinking about my religion.
Through the years I had accepted the Mormon way of life, and now to be questioning my religion was uncomfortable, to say the least. I didn't like the negative feelings I was having and I seriously questioned the information I was receiving. I had to prove to myself the Church was true, and that my concerns were without foundation. That's when I began an in-depth study of the history of Mormonism, especially the Temple Ceremony.
THE HOUSE OF THE LORD
(The Mormon Temple)
As a child traveling from Ogden, Utah to Manti, Utah to visit relatives, the Salt Lake Temple fascinated me, with its six stately spires reaching toward heaven. I found the temple to be both intriguing and mysterious.
In a church with a history and practice that spark curiosity and often off-the-mark speculation, Mormon temples around the world are one of the religion's most dominant features. They are costly and elaborate buildings. They are buildings so architecturally interesting that they can slow down traffic and awaken the imagination. Inside, the temple is not a cavernous building, like a cathedral, but divided up into many rooms where the sacred-rites, called ordinances, are performed.
According to the Mormon scripture, Doctrine and Covenants Section 124, the Lord commanded Joseph Smith to build a house (temple) for the Most High to dwell in. The Lord said; "And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people." (verse 40) The Lord then went on to say in verse 55: "Prove yourselves unto me that ye are faithful in all things whatsoever I command you, that I may bless you, and crown you with honor, immortality and eternal life."
Mormons believe their temples are holy sanctuaries where sacred ordinances, rites and ceremonies are performed which pertain to salvation and exaltation in the kingdom of God. "They are the most sacred places of worship on earth; each one is literally a House of the Lord, a house of the great Creator, a house where he and his Spirit may dwell, to which he may come, or send his messengers, to confer priesthood keys and to give revelation to his people," wrote Apostle Bruce R. McConkie. (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 780)
Ordinances for the living and the dead are performed in these holy temples. According to the Mormon Church, without receiving these important ordinances, including baptism, washing, anointing, endowment and sealing, one cannot enter the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom where God and Christ reside, and families can be together forever.
At one time Mormons were encouraged to move to Salt Lake City, or Zion, as the Church called it, and become part of the fold. Today Mormons are encouraged to stay where they are. To help the Church come to them, temples are being built in every corner of the world. As recently as 1991, temples outside Utah were rare. With the Nauvoo Temple being completed in 2002, there are now 108 temples in the world, 55 of them outside of the United States. Six of the last 10 temples dedicated are in foreign countries. Under the leadership of 91-year-old President Gordon B. Hinckley, the chief prophet and apostle of the Church, Mormons have embarked on an ambitious temple-building project, which he first announced in 1985 and which is helping to transform the Church from a provincial creed into an international religious force.
In order to understand Mormonism and the hold it has on its people, it is necessary to know about the work that goes on in Mormon temples. The ceremonies that are performed in these temples are secret, (Mormons call them sacred) and only worthy members of the Mormon Church may participate in them. Although about 80 percent of all Mormons never go through the temple ceremony, many of the remaining 20 percent do so once a month, with some devout Mormons participating daily, believing they are doing work on behalf of dead persons.
BAPTISM FOR THE DEAD
Mormons believe that based on the eternal principle of vicarious service, the Lord has ordained 'baptism for the dead' as the means whereby all His worthy children of all ages can become heirs of salvation in His kingdom (The Celestial Kingdom).
The fact that Christ never mentioned baptism for the dead is strong evidence that no such doctrine existed in the early Christian church. Although the Bible and The Book of Mormon contain no specific authorization of baptism for the dead, the Mormon Church has been practicing this doctrine since its early days in Nauvoo, Illinois. The Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith declared, "The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, p. 146)
Wilford Woodruff, the fourth President of the Mormon Church made this statement: "Joseph Smith himself went into the Mississippi River one Sunday night after meeting, and baptized a hundred. I baptized another hundred. The next man, a few rods from me, baptized another hundred. We were strung up and down the Mississippi, baptizing for our dead." (The Deseret Weekly, vol. 42:554, April 25, 1891, as quoted in Temples of the Most High, by N. B. Lundwall, Salt Lake City, 1962, p. 69)
Baptism for the dead is now only performed in temples. Fonts for such purposes are constructed in the basements or lower portions of such buildings. The baptismal font rests on the backs of twelve carved oxen, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The Mormon people are very zealous about this work for the dead; they believe they are saving their dead ancestors. John Taylor, who became the third President of the Mormon Church, stated: "We are the only people that know how to save our progenitors,...we in fact are the saviors of the world, if they ever are saved." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 6 p. 163)
The Mormon Church has one of the largest and best genealogical libraries in the world. The Church is spending millions of dollars doing genealogical research in order to find the names of those who have died so they can do proxy baptism and temple work for them. Worthy adult members and youth of the Church may participate as 'proxies' for baptizing the dead after an interview with their Bishop.
The Church also has many people serving as 'extraction missionaries.' Elbert Peck, the former editor and publisher of the unauthorized Mormon intellectual magazine, Sunstone, said in an interview with The New Yorker Magazine in 2002: "They basically go to their little stake center and sit down at a microfilm machine and take these names and put them into our computer database."
According to Richard E. Turley, Jr., the managing director of the Family and Church History Department in Salt Lake City, as many as two hundred million dead people have been baptized as Mormons, (no permission was needed) including Buddha and all the Catholic popes, Shakespeare, Einstein, and Elvis Presley. Peck dismissively calls this practice "celebrity work for the dead." In the early nineties, some Mormons were moved to baptize victims of the Holocaust. The practice caused a great deal of friction with Jewish genealogists, who now monitor Mormon baptismal lists to make sure that Jews are not included.
Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the Mormon Church, claimed that he had saved (by doing their temple work) John Wesley Powell, Columbus, all the Presidents of the United States except three, and the signers of The Declaration of Independence, who he said gathered around him in the spirit and wanted to know why they had not been redeemed. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 19, p. 229)
Many people wonder why Mormons spend so much time and money searching for the names of the dead when there are so many people in the world starving to death. Maybe the answer to this question is in Malachi 4:5-6, which reads: "Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."
Mormons literally believe that if they don't search out their deceased ancestors and have their temple work done, there will be devastating eternal consequences.
THE NEW AND EVERLASTING COVENANT
On July 12, 1843 Joseph Smith introduced the 'new and everlasting covenant of marriage' (D&C Sec. 132), a revelation he claimed came from God. Since then, Mormon theology has taught that eternal life with one's family is only for those who go to the temple and receive their endowments by the Power and Authority of the Holy Priesthood. President Spencer W. Kimball said, "Only through Celestial Marriage can one find the strait way, the narrow path. Eternal life cannot be had in any other way. The Lord was very specific and very definite in the matter of marriage." (Deseret News, Church Section, Nov. 12, 1977)
Pres. Joseph F. Smith said; "When couples marry outside the temple, they cut themselves off. They have no claim upon each other, or their children upon them, and there will be weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth." (Answers to Gospel Questions, by Joseph F. Smith, p. 197)
Only Mormons who have passed the worthiness interview can enter the temple to participate in what is referred as 'temple work.' The following are some of the interview questions I was asked by my Bishop and member of the Stake Presidency before they would issue me a temple recommend.
1) Do you believe in God, the Eternal Father, in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?
2) Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
3) Do you sustain the other General Authorities and the local authorities of the Church?
4) Do you live the law of chastity?
5) Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
6) Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?
7) Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel?
8) Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow men?
9) Are you a full-tithe payer?
10) Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
11) Have you ever been divorced or are you now separated from your spouse under order of a civil court? If yes, (a) - Are you current in your support payments and other financial obligations for family members, as specified by court order or in other written, binding commitments? (b) Were there any circumstances of transgression in connection with your divorce or separation that have not been previously resolved with your Bishop?
12) If you have received your temple endowment - (a) Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple? (b) Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?
13) Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?
14) Do you consider yourself worthy in every way to enter the temple and participate in temple ordinances?
The Bishop and Stake leader emphasized the need to safeguard the recommend. They told me that I was not allowed to loan my recommend to anyone and that I should report to them immediately if it was ever lost or stolen. My recommend was to be renewed yearly.
When worthy Mormons enter the temple to receive their endowment or perform work for the dead, they will see temple workers dressed in white clothing and speaking softly. They will be greeted with a warm smile and escorted to their assigned area. If the patron is there to receive their own endowment (as it is called) they will begin by having an interview with one of the temple Presidency. If they are doing work for the dead they will not need the interview. The men (brethren) will go one way and the women (sisters) will go another. They are assigned lockers where they leave their street clothing and proceed to dress in the approved temple clothing. Baptism and initiatory ordinances for the deceased have usually been performed previously by other temple attendees. When you arrive to act as a proxy, you may perform one or two more ordinances for the deceased: The Endowment and The Sealing.
(Preliminary to the Endowment)
As the initiate stands upright in their 'Shield' (a white poncho-like covering) the temple worker wets his/her fingers under a small faucet of running water in the booth, and lightly touches designated areas of the initiate's body through the open sides of the shield, reciting a set blessing upon certain body parts. This is referred to as the 'Washing.'
Two temple workers then place their hands upon the patron's head and one of them recites a 'Confirmation of the Washing.'
After the Confirmation the initiate steps through a veiled partition into another part of the booth where she/he sits on a chair. The initiate is then 'anointed' with consecrated olive oil as the temple worker touches different body parts.
Two temple workers then confirm the 'Anointing.'
The initiate now steps through a third veiled partition into another section of the booth. A temple worker takes the 'Holy Garments of the Priesthood' off the towel rod and holds them open wide at the neck, for the patron to step into (right leg, left leg). It is then pulled up the sides of his body and he slips his right arm and left arms through the sleeves. Once again, a recited blessing is given and a 'New Name' is given to be part of another ceremony that day.
The patron, who has now completed the 'Initiatory Ordinances' and is ready to clothe for the Endowment, repeats the New Name. Upon giving the New Name, the worker writes (or stamps) either a 1 or 2 on the name slip. This indicates which of the New Names in use that day the patron received. The New Name (1) is changed daily, and may be almost any personal name found in the Bible or The Book of Mormon. The alternate New Name for men (2) is Adam, and is only given when the patron's given name (or that of the deceased) is similar to the daily New Name.
If the patron elects not to receive 'Washing and Anointing' as a proxy for the deceased prior to participating in an 'Endowment for the dead,' he must first obtain the New Name. Dressed in his white shirt, tie, pants, socks and slippers, he obtains the New Name by the following rite:
"Brother _______, having authority, I give you a New Name, for and in
behalf of _______ (patron and then temple worker read name of deceased), who is
dead, which you should always remember, and which you must keep sacred, and
never reveal except at a certain place which will be shown your hereafter. The
name is _______."
The patron now enters the temple chapel and waits on a bench with other patrons until they are called by a temple worker to enter an endowment room.
THE MORMON ENDOWMENT
(Key Parts Only -- Not Complete)
In most Mormon temples today there is a film with the presentation of the endowment; however, there are still live presentations in the Manti and Salt Lake Temples. Set-apart temple workers act out live sessions. The next few pages are key parts of the pre-1990 live endowment.
After dressing in the approved temple clothing the patrons enter the 'Creation Room.' The brethren (men) sit on the right side of the room and the sisters (women) sit on the left side. The introductory lecture begins.
First Lecturer: "Brethren and sisters, we welcome you to the temple, and hope you will find joy in serving in the house of the Lord this day. Those of you who are here to receive your own Endowment should have been washed, anointed, and clothed in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood. For those who are representing deceased persons, the ordinances of washing, anointing, and clothing in the Garment of the Holy Priesthood, together with the ordaining on behalf of deceased brethren were performed previously. Each of you should have received a New Name in connection with this company. If any of you have forgotten the New Name, or have not received these ordinances as explained, please stand. (pause)
Please be alert, attentive, and reverent during the presentation of the Endowment. As you are asked to proceed to the Veil, please do so in an orderly manner, row by row, as directed. After passing through the Veil into the Celestial Room, and in other areas in the Temple, if you need to communicate, please whisper, thus helping us maintain the quiet reverence that should prevail in the House of the Lord. We will now proceed with the presentation of the Endowment."
(The lights are dimmed at this point.)
Second Lecturer: "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 Israel forever.
Sisters, you have been washed and anointed to become hereafter Queens and Priestesses to your husbands.
Brethren and sisters, if you are true and faithful, the day will come when
you will be chosen, called up, and anointed Kings and Queens, Priests and
Priestesses, whereas you are anointed only to become such. The realization of
these blessings depends upon your faithfulness.
You have had a Garment placed upon you, which you were informed represents the garment given to Adam and Eve when they were found naked in the garden of Eden, and which is called the "Garment of the Holy Priesthood." This you were instructed to wear throughout your life. You were informed that it will be a shield and a protection to you inasmuch as you do not defile it, and if you are true and faithful to your covenants.
You have had a New Name given unto you, which you were told never to divulge, nor forget. This New Name is a keyword which you will be required to give at a certain place in the temple today.
Your Endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation.
If you proceed and receive your full endowment, you will be required to take upon yourselves sacred obligations, the violation of which will bring upon you the judgment of God; for God will not be mocked. If any of you desire to withdraw rather than accept these obligations of your own free will and choice, you may now make it known by raising your hand.
Brethren and sisters, as you sit here; you will hear the voices of three persons who represent Elohim, Jehovah, and Michael. Elohim will command Jehovah and Michael to go down and organize a world. The work of the six creative periods will be represented. They will also organize man in their own likeness and image, male and female."
The endowment commences with a short presentation depicting the creation of the universe and the creation of man, (Adam and Eve), then the patrons move to the room representing The Garden of Eden. Elohim, (God the Father) Jehovah, (Jesus Christ) Adam, Eve, and Lucifer (Satan) are the key players. The fall of man is represented and Elohim commands Lucifer to depart. Elohim says:
Elohim: We will put the sisters under covenant to obey the "Law of Obedience" to their husbands. Sisters, arise. (Female patrons stand as instructed.)
Elohim: Each of you bring your right arm to the square. You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will each observe and keep the law of your husbands, and abide by his counsel in righteousness. Each of you bow your head and say "yes."
Elohim: That will do.
(The female patrons now resume their seats.)
Elohim: Brethren, Arise.
(Male patrons stand as instructed.)
Elohim: Each of you bring your right arm to the square. You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar that you will obey the law of God, and keep his commandants. Each of you bow your head and say "yes."
The endowment continues:
"We will now give you the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name sign, and penalty. Before doing this, however, we desire to impress upon your minds the sacred character of the tokens of the Holy Priesthood, with their names, and signs, and penalties, which you will receive in the temple this day. They are most sacred, and are guarded by solemn covenants and obligations of secrecy to the effect under no condition, even at the peril of your life, will you ever divulge them, except at a certain place in the temple that will be shown you hereafter. The representation of the execution of the penalties indicates different ways in which life may be taken."
The company (referencing the group of patrons as a whole) then moves to the next room, which represents 'The Terrestrial Kingdom,' or the earth in which we now live. The presentation shows a Christian minister working hand-in-hand with Lucifer to deceive mankind for profit by teaching orthodox Christian doctrine. The Apostles Peter, James and John appear. Peter rebukes Lucifer and out of anger Satan turns to the company and says: " If they do not live up to every covenant they make at these altars in this temple this day, they will be in my power." Peter looks at Lucifer and tells him to depart!
At various points while in this room and the next room representing 'The Telestial Kingdom,' patrons are required to stand and covenant to obey the remaining four laws of the endowment:
The Law of Sacrifice is explained as based on the Old and New Testaments. In submitting to this Law, the patrons covenant to 'sacrifice all that we possess, even our own lives if necessary,' in sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God (The Mormon Church).
The Law of the Gospel requires the patrons to covenant to obey the Gospel (as taught by the Mormon Church) and to avoid all light-mindedness, loud laughter, evil speaking of the Lord's anointed (the leaders of the Mormon Church), the taking of the name of God in vain, and every other unholy and impure practice.
The Law of Chastity is a covenant to restrict one's sexual relations to the lawful spouse.
The Law of Consecration requires that you consecrate yourselves, your time, talents and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion.
At various points in the dramatization, in addition to the making of the covenants to keep the various laws, the patrons put on an apron, robe, sash, cap for the men and veil for the women, all referred to as the 'Robes of the Holy Priesthood.' The patrons move through the steps pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood wearing the robe on the left shoulder, and then move the robe to the right shoulder for the rituals of the Melchizedek (higher) Priesthood. Both priesthoods have two tokens, signs and penalties. The tokens are special handclasps, with one person giving the token and the other person receiving it. Each token also has a name that must be learned. The signs are positions in which the arms and hands must be held. These tokens and signs are methods of identifying oneself as endowed. Although no Mormon would use this means of identifying himself outside the temple, the implication is that one will be asked to show these signs and tokens for admission to the Celestial Kingdom.
Up until 1990 the endowment ritual included oaths of secrecy in which the initiates mimicked the penalty (which was the taking of their own lives by slitting the throat and by disembowelment) if they ever revealed the secret handshakes and passwords. It was understood that anyone revealing these signs or tokens was expressing willingness to suffer the corresponding penalty and lose their life. As each token and sign is presented to the company, each patron receives the token from an officiator and the company makes the sign and enacts the execution of the penalty in unison, the final handshake is referred to as the Patriarchal Grip. The blood oaths were removed in 1990.
After the company has received all the signs and tokens of the priesthood, they are instructed in the 'true order of prayer.' Some members of the company standing around the altar, facing the altar, and alternating by sex if possible form a circle. The officiator stands at the altar and leads the circle through all the signs of the priesthood, the last being the sign of the Second Token of the Melchizedek priesthood, the words "Pay Lay Ale," repeated three times. These words were recently replaced by the words "Oh God, hear the words of my mouth" repeated three times.
At this point, the officiator kneels at the altar. The women cover their
faces with their veils. The members of the circle join hands in the Patriarchal
Grip, each man with the woman to his left, raising the left arm to the square
and resting it on the shoulder or arm of the person to the left. The officiator
makes the sign of the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, and, while holding
his arms in that position (a shoulder-high elbow rest is conveniently provided
for him at the altar, in case he should be inspired by the Spirit to make the
prayer overly long), he offers an impromptu prayer. This is the only part of the
temple ceremony that is not rigidly according to a script.
As the officiator says each phrase of the prayer, the members of the circle repeat it in unison. The content of the prayer is usually quite ordinary, but always includes prayers for "those people whose names are lying upon this altar." This is the temple 'prayer list,' consisting of the names of the sick, the suffering, the doubting, or others who devout Mormons believe would benefit from the extra strength of a true prayer in the temple. Any devout Mormon may ask that a particular name be added to the prayer list at any temple.
The end of the endowment ceremony comes when the 'Veil' (a wall of curtains) is uncovered and each member of the company is presented individually at the Veil to be examined for worthiness and admitted through the Veil into the Celestial Room, representing the Celestial Kingdom.
Each section of the Veil is separated from the next by a small post, from which hangs a small mallet. Each patron is presented by a temple worker at one of the segments of the Veil. Another worker, representing 'The Lord,' stands unseen on the other side of the Veil. The worker standing with the patron taps three times with the mallet, and a dialogue occurs. The Lord requests an accounting of the tokens and signs (handshakes), the 'New Name,' and a recitation of the 'Five Points of Fellowship.'
The endowment ceremony ends for each patron as he or she passes through the Veil. If a man and woman are being married that day, the man goes through the Veil first, and then assumes the role of the Lord to bring his bride through the Veil.
In 1990, several significant portions of the endowment ceremony performed worldwide in Mormon temples were eliminated: the wording: "even at the peril of your life" and: "The representation of the penalties indicates ways in which life may be taken," was deleted. Women no longer have to swear an oath and covenant of obedience to their husbands; a segment showing a Christian minister working hand-in-hand with Lucifer to deceive mankind for profit by teaching orthodox Christian doctrine was removed; three morbid gestures that imply Mormon patrons will lose their lives through having their throats slashed, their hearts torn out, and their abdomens cut open if they reveal temple secrets; the chanting in unison of "Pay Lay Ale, Pay Lay Ale, Pay Lay Ale" (supposedly meaning 'Oh God, hear the words of my mouth' in the Adamic language); and the Five Points of Fellowship in which initiates embrace The Lord (a male temple worker) through openings in the Veil of the temple.
What is a mystery to many, including those in the rank-and-file of the 11-million-member church, is how these drastic changes could have gone into effect without a revelation through the current living prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, and without an announcement given at General Conference or by other public means.
Church spokesman Don LeFevre said, "So far the people are delighted over
the changes." But he refused to disclose what brought them about, or to
explain why there was never a public announcement of them. "We can't tell
you that because of our deep feeling about the temples, which we view literally
as the house of the Lord," he said. "We do not publicly discuss
specifics of our sacred temple."
Although I was happy with the changes they also perplexed me. We had been taught that the temple endowment was given through direct revelation from God to Church founder Joseph Smith. I didn't know at the time that the ceremony had already gone through other major revisions.
Whereas civil marriages are until death do us part, Mormons believe that marriages performed in their temples are for time and all eternity. Such marriages are referred to as a 'Celestial Marriage' or 'The New and Ever Lasting Covenant.' Mormons believe that Celestial Marriage is the gate to exaltation in the highest degree within the Celestial world.
Once a Mormon has completed their initiatory work and received their endowment, they are allowed to be married or sealed in the temple. Although the bride may wear a traditional white wedding gown, she must wear the ritual temple clothing over the gown. After dressing in the proper clothing the participants are escorted to a 'sealing room' were their family and friends (who are temple-worthy) wait. Even family members of any age who are active in the Church but who are un-endowed are not allowed to witness the marriage. 'Unworthy' Mormons (those that will not conform to the rigid rules of the Mormon Church), and non-Mormons are also excluded. No music, no poetry, no photographs are allowed during the short wedding ceremony.
One who has the sealing power of the priesthood (officiator) gives counsel to the couple and then the ceremony begins. The bride and groom kneel on opposite sides of the altar and face each other. They are dressed in their full temple robes, with the robe on the right shoulder. They join hands in the Patriarchal Grip, which signifies that the marriage ordinance is under the operation of the Melchizedek Priesthood.
The officiator who will perform the sealing stands at the head of the altar. Seated behind the officiator are two witnesses to the ceremony whose signatures will appear on the temple marriage certificate. Guests are seated on either side of the altar, along mirrored walls. Sealings are done for both the living and the dead.
Brother______, [acting as proxy for _______, who is dead] do you take sister______, [acting as proxy for______, who is dead] by the right hand and receive her unto yourself to be your lawful and wedded wife for time and all eternity, with a covenant and promise that you will observe and keep all the laws, rites, and ordinances pertaining to this Holy Order of Matrimony in the New and Everlasting covenant, and this you do in the presence of God, angels, and these witnesses of your own free will and choice?
Officiator: Repeats for the Sisters.
By virtue of the Holy Priesthood and the authority vested in me, I pronounce you ______, and______, legally and lawfully husband and wife for time and all eternity, and I seal upon you the blessings of the holy resurrection with power to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection clothed in glory, immortality, and eternal lives, and I seal upon you the blessings of kingdoms, thrones, principalities, powers, dominions and exaltations, with all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [and say unto you: be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, that you may have joy and rejoicing in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ]. All these blessings, together with all the blessings appertaining unto the New and Everlasting Covenant, I seal upon you by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, through your faithfulness, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.
The couple kiss across the altar. Rings may be exchanged at this point, but they are not considered part of the ceremony.
TEMPLE CEREMONY FOR SEALING CHILDREN
Married couples with children born prior to their going through the temple must have their children sealed to them for time and all eternity. Children are automatically sealed to the parents who were born after a temple marriage or sealing. These children are considered 'Born under the Covenant.'
The parents kneel at the wedding altar, dressed in the Robes of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood. They join hands in the Patriarchal Grip and the children kneel around the altar placing their right hands upon their parents' hands, beginning with the oldest child. The children are clothed in white. The officiator seals each child to the parents in the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.
THE SECOND ANOINTING OR ENDOWMENT
The Second Anointing ordinance is so rare that many Mormons do not know that it exists. A second anointing is done only by invitation from the president of the Church. It is performed in the 'Holy of Holies' room of the temple by one of the apostles of the Church. Those who receive this ordinance are guaranteed their salvation and exaltation in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. The man is anointed as "priest and king" (the wife is anointed "priestess and queen") and their 'calling and election to exaltation is made sure.' Part of the ceremony is performed by the couple in the privacy of their own home, following instructions given during the ceremony, and includes the ceremonial washing of feet. One implication of the ceremony is that the recipients will have a personal visitation of Christ. In earlier days many devout Mormons received this ordinance, but since the 1920's it is extremely rare, and probably only given to those in high leadership positions in the Church.
THE HOLY GARMENT
Once an LDS member has been through the temple and received their endowments, they are committed to wear the special underwear (garments) day and night for the remainder of their life. They will also be buried in this underwear along with the 'Robes of the Holy Priesthood' (Temple Clothing). The old-style garments that my grandparents wore covered the entire body, except for the head, hands, and feet. Early Mormon leaders taught that the garment could not ever be changed. Pres. Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of the Church, made this statement: "The Lord has given unto us Garments of the holy priesthood, and you know what that means. And yet there are those of us who mutilate them, in order that we may follow the foolish, vain and (permit me to say) indecent practices of the world. They should hold these things that God has given them as sacred, unchanged and unaltered from the very pattern in which God gave them. Let us have the moral courage to stand against the opinions of fashion, and especially where fashion compels us to break a covenant and so commit a grievous sin." (Improvement Era, vol. 9: 813)
In 1918, the message was still that the garment was not to be altered, or mutilated, and was to be worn as intended, down to the wrist and ankles, and up to the neck. (Messages of the First Presidency by J.R. Clark, 1971, vol. 5, p.110) However, on June 14, 1923, because women's fashions changed drastically, The First Presidency and The Council of The Twelve issued a bulletin permitting certain modifications of the garment, namely (1) Sleeve to elbow. (2) Leg just below the knee. (3) Buttons instead of strings. (4) Collar eliminated. (5) Crotch closed.
The present style garment differs even more today. Now the men and women's garments are two pieces, made in a variety of different materials. The women's garment has a small cap over the women's shoulders, and the length is higher than the knee. The men's garment top is much like a regular tee shirt. The bottom is also considerably shorter. There are still Masonic symbols sewn into the garment. I was instructed to cut the symbols out of my garments and burn them when the garment wore out.
The garment is not to be taken off except upon limited circumstance such as
when bathing or in the case of sports activities where the garment might show.
They are worn to bed at night. The unique garment style can sometimes be seen
beneath outer clothing. This gives other Mormons at least an important clue as
to whether they are talking to a good worthy member of the LDS religion.
However, no clothing is to be worn which exposes any part of the garment to open
THE SEARCH FOR TRUTH
As stated earlier, the presentation of the Endowment is presented live in the Manti Temple. When my wife, Tammy, and I first started working in the temple I was told that I would need to memorize the entire temple ceremony word for word, which is about 50 to 60 pages, which I did. I was assigned a trainer to help me learn all the parts, meaning the different characters such as Elohim (God the Father) Jehovah, Adam, Lucifer, and the Apostles, Peter, James and John. Tammy was required to memorize the part of Eve. After memorizing the parts, we became active participates in the presentation of the Endowment. The ceremony is a reenactment of the creation, the beginning of man, and God's dealings with his people past and present.
There are oaths, covenants, and penalties that the participants are required
to make. I felt sick inside every time I took the part of Lucifer. I was saying
those same hideous words that I heard Lucifer say the first time Tammy and I
attended the temple.
"If they do not live up to every covenant they make at these altars in this temple this day, they will be in my power." I saw the same fear in the patron's faces as I had felt when I received my own endowments.
After serving in the Manti Temple for one year Tammy and I were called as assistant supervisors to the new Presidency. This calling required a much bigger time commitment than the previous calling. One of my responsibilities was to gather up the used nametags that the patrons wore, with the name of the deceased person for whom they were going through the temple as proxy. I would return the used nametags to the temple secretary's office. It wasn't long before I realized the same names were used a second day, and to my amazement a third day. I couldn't help wondering what was happening here. Why were the same names being used three days in a row? I asked my supervisor about it and he told me they always use the names of the deceased persons for three consecutive days. Then the names are sent to another temple where the same temple work is done again. This policy and procedure made no sense to me.
My supervisor went on to explain, that sometimes those who attend the temple are not worthy, and therefore the work would be invalid! But what about the worthiness interview with the Bishop and Stake President? Didn't that matter? Other than feelings of confusion concerning the endowment I'd experienced years ago, this was a red flag that I could not ignore. I felt something was terribly wrong with the explanation I had been given. Either my supervisor was ill informed or the work being done in the temple was terribly flawed.
Another concern I had was the small attendance at each temple session. Only three to fifteen members were going through each session each hour of the day except Friday and Saturday. Friday evenings and Saturdays were the only time we had full sessions, which would have been about 125 members per session. Most of those who attended these sessions were there to be married (or sealed) for time and all eternity and were joined by their temple worthy family and friends.
As members we were continually instructed by our leaders to attend the temple more often. We were told that we had the responsibility of redeeming our deceased loved ones who never had the opportunity of attending the temple. Hence, without us doing their work they would not be allowed to enter the Celestial Kingdom. We were counseled to research six generations back and perform the temple work for them. Once we completed the temple work for our immediate and extended deceased families we were instructed to continue doing work for the dead in general.
Tammy and I never talked about our thoughts and feelings concerning the endowment. We had been put under covenant to never discuss the things that went on in the temple, not even to each other. But there were too many things that weren't adding up. I needed to know if this was God's work or the invention of man, so I went on a quest to prove (or disprove) Mormonism. I began to study the evolution of the temple ceremony.
I began my study by asking a good friend of mine if he knew anything about the first Temple Ceremony. To keep his name confidential I will call him Pete. Pete had been a Church historian for many years and had several file cabinets full of old Church documents. At first he was reluctant to show me any of the material saying that it was confidential and could harm the Mormon Church if it fell into the wrong hands. But because he felt like my testimony was unshakable he eventually let me read many of the documents.
A few months after Pete showed me several documents concerning the temple ceremony and other Church history, the Salt Lake City hierarchy sent a Church representative to Pete's home to collect all the documents he had gathered through the years. Pete had copied several documents from the Church Archives that seemed to be of great concern to the representative. Pete called me and told me that if I had copied anything he had let me read, the representative wanted them immediately. I gave them the copied information, but privately questioned their motives. Eventually I understood why they didn't want the documents in circulation.
The documents Pete let me read were entertaining, enlightening, and as he had
said, "harmful to the integrity of the endowment." I didn't realize
the endowment had changed so much through the years. When the Mormons built
their first temple in Kirtland, Ohio the endowment was entirely different than
the endowment ceremony in Nauvoo, Illinois and subsequence temples.
A Brief History Of The Early LDS Temple Endowment
Pursuant to revelation and commandment, the Mormon Saints, with Joseph Smith as their leader, built the first temple of this, the last, dispensation in Kirtland, Ohio, March 1836. Mormons believe that priesthood authority (keys) were restored to the earth through Joseph Smith, having been lost to the world after Christ's death, during the days of the ancient apostles. Members believe it was during this great apostasy that Christ's Church departed from His pure teachings and lost His authority.
The purpose of sharing the following information is to point out that the LDS endowment conducted in the Kirtland Temple was significantly different than the endowment conducted later in the Nauvoo Temple. Many of the changes in the two endowments were a result of incorporating borrowed Masonic Rites.
The Kirtland Elder's Quorum Record 1836-1841, which is found in the Reorganized LDS Church Archives and edited by Lyndon W. Cook and Milton V. Backman Jr., (Provo, Utah, Grandin Book Co., 1985. Backman & Cook eds. Kirtland Elders' Quorum Record (1985), pp. 25-26) shows the differences in the two ceremonies.
"Worthy brethren who were unable to attend the solemn assembly the previous year were invited to participate in certain purifying ordinances preparatory to receiving a spiritual endowment of power. These ordinances consisted of 1) washing head to foot in soap and water, 2) washing in clear water and perfumed whiskey, 3) having one's head anointed with consecrated oil and receiving a blessing by the spirit of prophesy, 4) having the anointing blessing sealed with uplifted hands (solemn prayer, a sealing prayer, and the hosanna shout), and 5) washing of faces and feet and partaking of the Lord's Supper."
There were no sacred oaths, penalties, hand-grips, new names, use of wedding garb, priesthood apron, or five-points of fellowship! All of these Masonic ritual similarities were not included in temple ceremonies until after Joseph Smith became a Mason while living in Nauvoo, Illinois.
CHANGES IN THE TEMPLE CEREMONY
Although the Prophet Joseph Smith declared "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of man, are not to be altered or changed," (Ensign, August 2001, p. 22) not only has the holy garment gone through major changes, so has the Temple Ceremony gone through major revisions over the last 160 years.
The Mormon Church has not only taught that the endowment came by revelation, but also claim it had not been changed since the time it was first given by Joseph Smith. The evidence does not support this teaching. Changes in the temple ceremony have been evolving since the early days of the Mormon Church. The sealing of men to men has been eliminated, the oath of vengeance has been deleted, the Devil's minister is gone, the oath of women's obedience to their husbands has been reworded, penalties have been white-washed allowing the terrible blood oaths to be eliminated, the five points of fellowship (added in Nauvoo) have been removed, and black people are now allowed to attend the Mormon temple.
SEALING MEN TO MEN
Mormons believe in sealing women to men and children to their parents for all eternity, but few people know about the doctrine of 'sealing men to men.' This doctrine is also known as the 'Law of Adoption.' Joseph Smith had sealed to himself a number of his most faithful followers. Among them were Brigham Young and the first members of the 'Council of Fifty.' The sealing took place for the purpose of establishing the Kingdom of God upon this earth and to share in Smith's exaltation hereafter. (The Diary of Hosea Stout, 1844-1861, vol. 1, p. 178, n. 50.)
Not long before his death, Joseph Smith formed a secret organization known as the 'Council of Fifty.' He declared himself president of the council, a custom followed by the next two presidents of the Church, Brigham Young and John Taylor. The Council was composed of two non-Mormons and forty-eight to fifty Mormon high priests. Their mission was to develop a world government and make preparatory plans for the second coming of Christ. The notorious Orrin Porter Rockwell, Hosea Stout, and Bill Hickman were members. According to the Mormon writer Klaus J. Hansen, members of the council wore special robes, had secret signs, and bore some resemblance to Freemasonry. Hansen also said that the Mormon Church has suppressed the records of the Council of Fifty. (Quest For Empire, p. 214)
Brigham Young referred to some future time 'when men would be sealed to men in the priesthood in a more solemn ordinance than that by which women were sealed to men.' Young stated that he cared very little about the private society of women. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 99) After Joseph Smith's death, Young carried on the practice of the Law of Adoption, having thirty-eight young men sealed to him. Danite John D. Lee was the second and seemed to always regret that he was not the first adopted son. There was a great deal of jealousy among the Mormon men with regard to these strange sealings. Each one was seeking higher glory in the hereafter. In the Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 1, pp. 500-501, the Mormon historian B.H. Roberts gives the following information concerning the secret band known as the Danites: "It is in this testimony and principally in the statement of Dr Avard, that the existence of the 'Danites' in the Mormon church is affirmed. Avard declared that about four months before the date of his testimony, which would be in the month of July, 1838, a band called the 'Daughters of Zion' (afterwards called the 'Danite Band') was formed of the members of the Mormon church, the original object of which was to drive from the county of Caldwell all those who dissented from the Mormon church." The Society was given unlimited power over the property, persons, and lives of the members of the Mormon Church. The secret signs and purposes of the society were not to be revealed on pain of death as reported by Reed Peek in a manuscript written in 1839.
In a footnote in On The Mormon Frontier, vol. 1, p. 178, Mormon writer/historian Juanita Brooks observed: "The whole plan [speaking about sealing men to men] became the subject of so much controversy that it was all dropped and the practice abandoned."
Like the Masonic ritual, the Mormon endowment was full of death threats and penalties if the initiate ever revealed the secrets of the endowment. Ebenezer Robinson, who had been the editor of the Times and Seasons (early Mormon Church newspaper) made this statement concerning the endowment in Nauvoo. "Here was instituted, undoubtedly the order of things which represented the scenes in the Garden of Eden, which was called in Nauvoo, the "Holy Order," a secret organization. The terrible oaths and covenants taken by those who entered there were known only to those who took them, as one of the members said to me, "I could tell you many things, but if I should, my life would pay the forfeiture."
The following are the blood oaths that were taken by members of the Mormon Church during Joseph Smiths' lifetime.
The First Token, Aaronic Priesthood ... "We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the first token of the Aaronic priesthood, with its accompanying name sign or penalty. Should we do so; we agree that our 'throats be cut' from ear to ear and our 'tongues torn out' by their roots"...
The Second Token, Aaronic Priesthood ... "We and each of us do covenant and promise that we will not reveal the Second Token of the Aaronic priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, grip or penalty. Should we do so, we agree 'to have our breasts cut open' and our 'hearts and vitals torn from our bodies' and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field"...
The First Token, Melchizedek Priesthood ... "We and each of us do covenant and promise that we will nor reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that 'our bodies be cut asunder' in the midst and all our 'bowls gush out'"...
Following Joseph and Hyrum's death, Brigham Young introduced an oath into the endowment that required members to swear vengeance upon this nation. It was called "The Law of Vengeance." Temple patrons were instructed to stand and raise their right arm to the square and told: "You, and each of you, do solemnly promise and vow that you will pray, and never cease to pray, and never cease to importune high heaven to 'avenge the blood of the prophets' [Joseph and Hyrum Smith] on this nation, and that you will teach this to your children and your children's children unto the third and fourth generation".... All bow your heads and say yes." This oath was one of the main reasons why 120, men, women, and children were killed in what is known as the Mountain Meadow Massacre. (See Chapter XX [Sec H], Mountain Meadow Massacre - The Untold Story.)
Next: Section G
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Note: Copyright 2003 Tammy and Larry Braithwaite.