First Time to the Mormon Temple

Like many here I was raised all my life with stories of the beauties and celestial wonderment of the temple endowment. It was presented as ecstasy on earth, more spiritual holiness than mortal man could scarcely take in. One would be in danger of being transfigured right on the spot.

Back in 1962 the mission home was located just up the street from the SLC temple. All missionaries spent just a week there getting prepped, and part of the prepping was taking out our endowments. The SLC temple was closed for external refurbishing so they loaded us all up on buses for a long ride down to the Manti temple.

Absolutely no effort was made to prepare or inform us as to what to expect or what would happen. My next memory is an elderly old man touching me under a sheet and mumbling something I could not understand, but what was obviously a memorized prayer given in a totally disconnected and impersonal manner.

Then we were given the old style garments to put on: they went clear to the ankles and wrists and laced up the front with an overlong show lace.

As we went through the various rooms of the endowment ceremony I noted the various paintings on the wall and tried to make sense of it. This was in the days of the live actors dressed in white, except for Satan and the "Christian minister" dressed, as I recall, in black.

I couldn't figure out if the "men in black" were supposed to be mocking us or the world at large. Next came the fun of acting out having my own abdomen and throat slashed if I dared ever reveal any of this business to anyone. By the time we arrived at the veil my head was swimming. Then came time for the semi-erogenous "five points of fellowship through the veil", a few raps with a mallet, and we were dumped into the celestial room.

This rococo room, adorned in gilded white with an excess of overstuffed chairs, mirrors and an ostentatious chandelier, was supposed to be celestially orgasmic. I dizzyingly wondered "Is this all there is?" Where was the choir of singing angels, where was spirits from beyond thanking me for doing their work for them?

I was teetering and had difficulty finding the dressing rooms, but now got to try on my own new garmies, fresh out of the plastic bag. These had been chosen for me by well meaning family for practical durability. This meant they were one piece, made of 100% nylon with the same stretch, moisture absorbency, and comfort levels as a medieval suit of armor.

On the long bus ride back to SLC I don't believe I spoke a word to anyone. I just sat there in a state of bewildered shell-shock. I kept wondering "What was that?!" Growing up I remembered so many LDS criticisms leveled at the catholic church for their excessive ceremonies, and then Mormons do THIS!!

In Europe we made a couple of mission trips to the Swiss Temple. I was a little better prepared by this time, but can honestly say that I never enjoyed it. In following years they toned down some of the worst endowment excesses, but no matter how carefully and sincerely I prepared for it the temple ceremony was always something I dreaded and endured. I would be ever so glad when the torture finally came to an end.

It was the first experience of my life that seriously shook me to my TBM Mormon core. I think it planted the seeds of doubt that eventually led me to belatedly realize the church was invalid - and it started in the holiest of holies, the Mormon Temple!

Subject: Re: No, but it made a serious dent
Date: Nov 19 13:58
Author: Jen70

Wow--how uncomfortable were the full-length garments?!! Were you disappointed that you did not feel more "spiritual" after the endowment ceremony? I can't understand the people who share that they "got so much out of" the freaking Masonic ceremony!!

Subject: isn't it that those who have been
Date: Nov 19 14:09
Author: J.

to temple feel they must say it was a wonderful
experience because everyone else says it is?
emperor's new clothes syndrome?

Subject: I had the same feeling that LM had in the Temple, it was a shock
Date: Nov 19 14:33
Author: sandisu

and seemed so cult like. I was very upset when I left the Temple after being sealed to my husband. It was so impersonal and cold. I did not know that we (as a couple) had to sit apart from each other. I thought, here we are getting married and not even together. It was all bizarre and by the time we got in the sealing room I was so upset I hardly remember any of it. I hated going every time . the first time I went was 1966 and the last was 1974. we had to travel 350 miles to get to the Oakland Temple so we were not going more then a couple of times a year.
I was surprised when I heard they had changed the ceremony and you did not have to slit your throat and all that . I read the ceremony the way it is now and they really changed a lot of things but I would still think it was weird ! I bet it got a lot of people to wondering what the heck this was and it's no wonder they want to keep it a secret. If the member knew they might no want to go, I sure would not have.

Subject: Re: I had the same feeling that LM had in the Temple, it was a shock
Date: Nov 19 18:02
Author: Wendy

I am a convert and my husband is pressing me to go to the temple to be sealed...He knows that I do not want to go...this really scares me after reading all about the temple....

Subject: I "went through the Oakland temple" in 1972

Date: Nov 19 18:12
Author: daily
Mail Address:

and was shell-shocked too. I just didn't realize it at the time. I wonder how many people would do the temple thing if they really knew about the ceremonies.

My mom absolutely hated it. My parents were sealed, etc. a few months before my wedding. My dad had finally joined the morg a year before. Mom only went a few times after that.

Oh, the morg blinders are powerful!!

Subject: Your first time through the temple: what did you think and feel?
Date: Jan 03 23:29
Author: KathyWUT

I never went through the temple, left the church before I got there. But (in my opinion) the temple ceremonies are so weird that they keep me from being able to truly respect anyone who is a temple-going Mormon. I have a really hard time understanding how people stay in the church after that first visit to the temple. I'm hoping to get a feel for how many of you thought it was bizarre that first time you went through. Were you shocked? If you can remember what you thought, that is.

Subject: Re: Your first time through the temple: what did you think and feel?
Date: Jan 04 00:11
Author: erer

It's less spooky than kind of boring. In addition, I always had a hard time putting on the clothes, and would forget the "sure sign of the nail" thing I needed to get through the veil. After attending, I felt righteous because I had done something painful out of obligation, not because I left feeling "uplifted" in any way. Attending also made me feel less important as a woman, but the Church does that for me anyway, even without the temple.

Subject: Since you've asked...
Date: Jan 04 00:15
Author: Emma

I'll be more than happy to tell you my thoughts and feelings about the Temple when I first went in 1980 in preparation for my full-time mission.

Before I went the full time missionaries in my hometown were telling me that I must go in with the right frame of mind. I told them that I could handle anything as long as it didn't include my getting undressed or being naked in front of anyone. They just looked at me, and at each other. I knew right then and there I was headed for trouble.

I took my endowments out in the Provo Temple. During the whole ceremony I just wanted to scream I'm trapped in SATAN's house. I couldn't believe I was participating in something like that. I was in major shock over it. My friend who took me through kept telling me that she would be happy to help me understand the Temple over dinner. I looked at her thinking, WHAT? You really understand this crap? All she did for me was bring her bible and BOM to dinner and pointed out scriptures to me indicating certain things concerning garments and so forth. She told me we were not allowed to really talk about the Temple anywhere but in the Temple so all she could do was show me scriptures. I tired hard to gain an understanding of what those scriptures meant to me in regard to what I had sat through that afternoon. Even though I tired, I never did make the connection.

I only went to the Temple on P-days while at the MTC, it was mandatory. Then later before I was to come home from my mission we were told to attend the Temple again. I had a family volunteer to take me. Secretly I had hope that no one would volunteer. And when someone did, I wanted to die. I really didn't want to go, but I felt I had no choice in the matter.

Then after I came home, I decided I would NEVER go back to the Temple again. I ended up braking that promise when I married my husband in the Los Angeles Temple. I told him I would marry him in the Temple only on condition that we do the sealing part and not the other stuff. I could at least handle the sealing for my wedding day. Our guests were surprised that we didn't go do endowments. We had to do the part where my husband took me through the veil part, but that was as close as I wanted to get to doing the whole thing.

Nineteen years later, and we have not been back to the Temple since. I don't pay tithing because I have no desire to go to the Temple. I hear people in the Church talk about how spiritual it is to them. I don't know where or how they can say that! It was not a spiritual experience to me at all. It was just plain boring, stupid, and a bit scary. It also made me so nervous to be standing up trying to get that getup on in such a few minutes. I hated the whole experience. That's why I have never gone back, nor will I ever go again.

Subject: My Temple Experience
Date: Jan 04 00:18
Author: Dubious

Prior to actually receiving my Temple Endowment, I was taught that the temple was a beautiful place. When I actually experienced the temple, it was far from beautiful. It was creepy, uncomfortable, and filled with what I would have expected if I were joining one of the “secret combinations” described in the Book of Mormon.

I had been brought up to believe that the temple was a beautiful place where families were married and sealed to each other for eternity—a beautiful concept. I envisioned traditional marriages, only happier. I always thought temple garments were odd, but I accepted them as “the way things were” because it was the “pattern” set by my parents.

As I got closer to departing to serve a mission, my parents tried to prepare me for the experience through a very short description of what was going to happen. They said I would be making serious covenants, and that the temple ceremony was a beautiful thing. What actually happened was completely different. It wasn’t peaceful; it wasn’t beautiful; and there were things that I was never warned about. During the ceremony, there were a couple of times they gave participants the opportunity to withdraw if they didn’t want to take upon themselves the covenants that they would be required to take on. But this was not fair because (1) I was not aware of what the covenants were going to entail, and (2) there was tremendous social pressure placed up on me to live up to my parents’ expectations.

As the endowment ceremony progressed, it seemed more and more weird. There was a big deal made about secrecy because of sacredness, but it felt weird because I had been taught that secrecy and secret combinations were bad. This happened in 1986 before the temple ceremony was toned down in 1990; so it still had some elements that I considered grotesque related to penalties for revealing certain secrets. I have always had problems with what happened in the temple, but I consciously suppressed my concerns as much as possible during the immediate years that followed until recently.

Subject: First and last
Date: Jan 04 01:01
Author: edy
Mail Address:

I went to the Salt Lake temple over thirty years ago, as a young man. I don't remember the ceremonies in detail, but I do remember some of my thoughts.

I remember thinking that I have been taught all my life that this church is different from lesser churches. It doesn't engage in ceremony, pomp and circumstance, signs, symbols and tokens. Now here I am, yes, this is still the same church, but here are those things going on which I was taught are not of God's church. Here they are to the MAX. Weird plays. Weird chants. Weird signs and symbolic gestures. How can this be. Yet everyone else here seems to be taking it in stride.

I also could never figure out why an omnipotent God would require anyone to memorize signs and gestures for admittance to heaven. It didn't make sense then, it makes even less sense now.

It was the first and the only time I went to a temple. There was no desire ever to return. It was the most faith shattering experience of my life.

Subject: Good Point. I remember looking around at friends, family, etc...
Date: Jan 04 01:10
Author: Dubious

Thinking to myself as they made slashing gestures across their necks: "You guys are OK with this?" Doesn't this seem different than the Families are Forever filmstrip?

I have got to see the God makers... for my own entertainment. I have never seen it.

Subject: Where was the further light and knowledge?
Date: Jan 04 01:04
Author: Fly

I took out my endowments the day before I got married
(that's another subject entirely. Talk about railroading
the women through the temple! Opting out of ceremony
= canceling your much planned-for wedding. What
choice did I have?). I was 20.

I expected some answers to Gospel questions and
mysteries. I half-way expected to see angels in the
Celestial Room. I had fasted, prayed, and I was
completely worthy to be in The House of the Lord. I
wanted to feel validated. I wanted an unmistakable
experience with the Spirit of God. I was approaching
my Savior, and I wanted to learn more about Him.

Instead, I was there with my fiancÚ, family, and maybe
75 complete strangers. It was a busy day, and a
temple worker put some ever-so-subtle pressure on us
to hurry along.

My dad said, "Well, little one, what do you think?"

I said nervously, "It's kind of weird. Seeing everyone
dressed up like this."

He looked a bit embarrassed. "Yeah, it's something
that takes some getting used to."

Now, of course, I am well aware that many Mormons
feel washed in the Spirit virtually every time they attend
a session. And I'm happy for people who feel that the
windows of Heavenly knowledge have opened for them
in the ceremony, but... I go, being rude...

...have you heard about people's hallucinatory
experiences in those sensory deprivation tanks?

Do the math!

; )

Subject: My pre mission endowment.
Date: Jan 04 01:32
Author: M@T

I was seriously thinking “What in thee hell am I doing here??” It seemed to be a completely different and alien religion compared to Mormon Church I grew up in.
I wish I would have followed my heart and made a "M@T" shaped hole in the exit door when they invited people to leave before making some very serious (and unknown at the time of the invitation) covenants that will utterly damn you if you do not keep them. But I was held firmly in my seat by family, social, and the cultural peer pressure of a lifetime in the church. Plus, I would felt like an idiot exiting a room filled with my friends and family on this “joyous” occasion. -I’d have better risk the ceremony and not stir things up. So, I innocently quaffed my damnation by repeating in numb-unison, the covenants and promises that all people make in the temple including the now omitted penalties for betraying such sacred things to the outside world. Nope, this isn't no cult here. When it was over, I never wanted to return. Unfortunately I was young, innocent, and impressionable; I believed what everyone was telling me about it taking time to understand. I sure wasted a lot of time trying to find that pearl. I always enjoyed the incredible peace I would feel as I climbed into my car after a session.

The temple remained freaky regardless of how many times I went. I tried hard to re-wire my brain but luckily it didn’t take. It did however, take me ten years to actually listen to my inner voice and realize that I was not the problem.

Subject: I remember thinking...
Date: Jan 04 03:01
Author: Mr. Happy

This is not the church I was raised in. I couldn't understand how my father and others who joined me could be doing all that stuff like it was no big deal!! When it came to "Pay Lay Ale" time, I was about ready to bolt. Being my first time, my father thought I should experience the "prayer circle". He dragged me up to the front where my elbow was resting on some midget woman's shoulder about two feet shorter than I. The guy gave an extra long prayer and I thought my arm was going to die. I kept waiting for the "great experience" to hit me but it NEVER did.

When I went through for my wife's first time, at the veil, the temple worker helping her was telling her the wrong info for the sign I was giving. The old man worker on my side kept telling me to repeat giving the sign over and over again. Each time, the wrong response came back. After seven or eight attempts, I leaned over to the worker and whispered, "Get your ass over there and set her straight so I can get the hell out of here." He quickly went to the other side and told the lady worker she was screwing up. Finally we got through. We were the first to the veil, and the last to get through. I told everyone that I was having second thoughts about pulling her through. Haa Haa

Related Temple Topics

19. Feel Ugly in Temple Clothing?    |   32. The Changing Temple       |    285. First Time to the Temple 2     

127 Temple Marriage Ceremony   |  155  New Names Given in the Temple  |  165  Not allowed to the Temple Wedding  

169  Can Temple Ordinances be Changed?   |    234  Changing Rules? Temple Marriages  

238  She Can't Stand The Temple    |  243  Temple Hype Versus Reality   |   42. Washing and Annointings

44. Stopped wearing garments    |   13. Non-Mormon and Garments


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