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I’ve heard some strange things about what goes on in the Temple. Are they true? (Done)

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Some former members of the Church have made radically false claims about the Temple. Some of these assertions are so outlandish, so looney, so crazy as to be laughable, if not for the fact that they have frequently been taken at face value by those who know little about the Church. Anything you’ve heard involving skull racks, virgin sacrifices or orgies is not true.

The plain reality cannot compete with the comic-book fictionalizing or the antimormon sensationalizing. In fact, tired people regularly fall asleep in the Temple. No one is naked, men and women have their own dressing rooms, etc. “No jot, iota, or tittle of the Temple rites is otherwise than uplifting and sanctifying.” James E. Talmage, House of the Lord, p.100.

In other words, nothing is shocking, but there are certainly things that are unfamiliar, such as the clothing worn in the Temple, the symbols used, the ritual words and actions. Truman Madsen, after recounting President McKay’s less-then-ideal first experience at the Temple (see here), offered three reasons why he himself had been unprepared and uncomfortable with the Temple. One reason was that he

had a built-in hostility to ritual and to symbolism. I was taught by people both in and out of the Church -with good intention, I have no doubt- that we don’t believe in pagan ceremony; we don’t believe in all these procedures and routines; that’s what they did in the ancient apostate church: we’ve outgrown all that. Well, that in effect is throwing out the baby with the bath water. We’re not against ordinances. God has revealed them anew.

The Radiant Life (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994): chapter 10.

In my view, all of the perceived strangeness of the Temple stems from one factor- the Temple ordinances follow an ancient paradigm, very different than what we are accustomed to, with formal ritual and symbolism. Bringing our modern assumptions and expectations to the Temple can negatively color our experience. Like beauty, strangeness is in the eye of the beholder.

As you come to see it with ancient eyes (as the readings here are meant to help you do), it will become more enriching and less strange. Even some non-LDS people who know little about our Temples but much about the ancient world have very positive things to say about it. (Those comments are found in Are the LDS Temple Ordinances “Biblical” and What does That Mean?)

I believe the keys to a good temple experience are 1) realistic expectations, 2) being morally clean and intellectually awake, 3) seeking the Spirit and 4) having an open mind, one that can adapt to an ancient paradigm and 5) “making use of the means the Lord has provided,” (Alma 60:21) that is, good books and articles on the Temple. ©


 
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