Monday, July 27, 2015

Temple prep - Endowed from on High "Lesson 2"

I'm reading the Church Education System's manual for temple preparation and adding my two cents. Text found here.

Objective

“It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church be temple worthy. Probably because that would mean they've all professed faith in you as a prophet, Howard, and that they're all paying full membership fees. I would hope that every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend” Maybe in the Millennium. (President Howard W. Hunter).
To help class members understand that they must be worthy to enter the temple. If the students of this course haven't been hearing the call to worthiness at this point in their lives as Mormons, what makes you think they'll hear it now?

Preparation

  1. Well in advance of this lesson, invite the bishop or branch president to present information about the process of obtaining a temple recommend. Make sure everyone understands that he will ask them each privately, behind closed doors if they ever think about sex or masturbate in any way. Suggested material for this presentation is provided on pages 10–11 in the section “The Process of Obtaining a Temple Recommend Is a Blessing.” With a title like that I might just have to give it a read! Talk about selling bullshit as blessings! If the bishop is not available, you could ask one of his counselors to make the presentation. Counselors will also ask you about self-arousal if given the chance.
  2. Write the following quotation on the chalkboard or a poster: “I invite all members of the Church to live with ever more attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ” Jesus never ever masturbated, but he loved to sit teens down and ask if they have. (President Howard W. Hunter, in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 7; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 8).

Lesson Presentation

Ask class members if they have any questions. About what? You haven't even introduced the topic yet and the first lesson was too safe to incite any kind of questions, so unless these kids have read something on their own (from the Internet, say) they won't have anything to ask. Take the time required to answer questions to the best of your ability and as guided by the Lord’s Spirit. Here's a question: What are the temple penalties I keep hearing about online? Remember that some aspects of temple work must not be discussed outside the temple. Like abolished oaths? They're no longer part of the temple so we can talk about them, can't we?
Explain that those who enter the temple must show their faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ by living the gospel and keeping the commandments. Like everyone has to do before they're baptized or when they take the sacrament? I'm not sure these kids will feel very informed by this information. They must be morally clean, pay a full tithing, obey the Word of Wisdom, keep the Sabbath day holy, and strive to live righteously in all other ways. In other words, no sex in thought or deed, you're paying your full financial dues, you only drink caffeine in the form of energy drinks and sodas, you do whatever your parents tell you is enough to "keep the Sabbath day holy", and you're generally a very sweet person who probably never curses. They must also be interviewed by the bishop or branch president and the stake or mission president and be found worthy to receive a temple recommend. These leaders have a special sixth sense that allows them to see into your soul and discern whether you're being honest with them. It's very spiritual. Don't be nervous. This lesson will review some of the gospel principles and commandments that the class members must be living in order to worthily attend the temple. The one's listed above, right? Let's do this!

Moral Cleanliness

Explain that the Lord and His prophets have repeatedly taught the great importance of being morally clean. Don't worry, I've already covered it! President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “We believe in chastity before marriage and total fidelity after marriage. That sums it up. Does it? What about couples who like to watch porn together or husbands who rape their wives? In both cases the partners are still being faithful but I seriously doubt the Church approves of either. That is the way to happiness in living. Except for those people who find happiness in polyamory, like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and so many others. That is the way to satisfaction. Not that you would know, Gordon. You probably didn't get a hard on until you were kneeling across from Marjorie at the temple alter. It brings peace to the heart and peace to the home” At least to your heart and home. (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 68; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 49).
Read together the following scriptures:
Doctrine and Covenants 42:22–24 (The Lord has commanded us to love our spouse and not to seek after anyone else; He has commanded us not to commit adultery.) The crazy think is that Joseph, the man who received this "revelation", went behind his wife's back numerous times! Emma never approved of one of his polygamous marriages before it actually happened and only approved of a couple for a very short time. That's why Joseph came up with Section 132 to threaten her with "destruction".
Doctrine and Covenants 121:45 (The Lord has commanded us to “let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly.”) Looking at the context, the term "virtue" here probably doesn't mean abstinence from sex, but more likely "good things in general".
1 Timothy 4:12 (We are to be examples of purity.) Looking at context again, it looks like "purity" probably isn't specifically referencing virginity or abstinance, but a more general freedom form sin or blemish.
1 Nephi 10:21 (No unclean thing can dwell with God.) God's very understanding about how flawed his children are. He's an awesome dad like that.
Articles of Faith 1:13 (We believe in being chaste and virtuous.) Let's not conflate chastity with virtue, please. Hey, at least you finally got one that definitely addresses sex, even if it's pretty vague.
  • Why does the Lord place so much emphasis on moral cleanliness? We'll find out in the next life. Until then we can only guess. I'm guessing he doesn't like sloppy seconds.
  • What are some of the results of immorality that we can see in the world around us? Girls getting raped at parties! Boys, unless she give her full consent, it's a "no"! Keep it in your pants, fuckwads! What are some of the blessings of living a morally clean life? No STDs and no surprise pregnancies! Do those count as blessings or just watching your ass?
Direct class members’ attention to the quotation you have written on the chalkboard or a poster (see the “Preparation” section in this lesson).
  • How can this counsel help us and our children to resist worldly temptations and live morally clean lives? Well if we do what Jesus did and live the way he asked us to, we'll live as vagrants without money which means we won't be materialistic assholes. We'll be free of all the consumerist trash we collect and discard into the oceans and landfills. We will leave the world a cleaner place than if we had followed the temptations to spend all our money on ourselves.
 

Tithing

Ask the class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 119:4.
Point out that the First Presidency has given the following explanation of a proper tithe: “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income” (First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970). Gross or net? Should we also explain that the commandment to tithe came after a failed commandment to live by the United Order? Tithing funds are used to build meetinghouses and temples, to sustain missionary work, and to build the kingdom of God on earth. By investing in malls, ranches, farms, apartments and many other forms of real estate! Grow, kingdom, grow!
Share the following statement by President James E. Faust:
“Tithing is a principle that is fundamental to the personal happiness and well-being of the Church members worldwide, both rich and poor. But please try to be rich. Tithing is a principle of sacrifice and a key to the opening of the windows of heaven. … Members of the Church who do not tithe do not lose their membership; they only lose blessings” Don't miss out on the "blessings! (in Conference Report, Oct. 1998, 73–74; or Ensign, Nov. 1998, 58–59).
Review with class members the following scriptures:
Leviticus 27:30 (Tithing is the Lord’s; it is holy unto the Lord.) God needs your money. Believe that!
Malachi 3:8–11 (We rob God when we withhold our tithes; God will abundantly bless those who pay tithing.) God owns your money! Never doubt that. He'll give it back in blessings. Truly.
  • What blessings have you received because you have paid tithing? Make something up. Anything. Say you had no money but went grocery shopping anyway and without even asking you the person in front of you paid for everything. God loves seeing you tragically desperate, it's true, but he loves giving you crazy ass stories to share with other Mormons too.
  • Why are we robbing God when we withhold our tithing? (See D&C 104:14.) Um, because he already owns everything! Duh! Feel free to will all your properties to the Church when you die, by the way.
Explain that each year members are asked to meet with their bishop or branch president in tithing settlement and declare to him whether they pay a full tithing. This is not a matter that stays between you and the Lord. We're going to check up on this shit. This meeting is an opportunity for members to evaluate how well they are fulfilling this important commandment. Without this meeting you'd never think about it even though we talk about it in church almost every week if not every meeting.

The Word of Wisdom

Explain that before we may enter the temple, the Lord expects us to be free of practices that make our lives unclean and unhealthy, both spiritually and physically. You really need to cut sugar out of your diet, kids. And stop popping your zits.
Read parts or all of the following scriptures:
1 Corinthians 3:16–17 (Our bodies are temples of God and should not be defiled.) You don't want to be destroyed do you? Well God will fucking destroy you if you mess with his temple (aka your body)!
Doctrine and Covenants 89 (This revelation is known as the Word of Wisdom. Verses 1–9 discuss the things we should not take into our bodies; verses 10–17 discuss the things that are good for our bodies; verses 18–21 describe the Lord’s promises to those who keep His commandments.) Oh, I've read this section and discussed it, thank you. The think about this health code is that the LDS Church approaches this banquet of knowledge cafeteria style. A lot of picking and choosing.
  • What things in the world today influence us to break the commandments given to us in the Word of Wisdom? Fast food meat, BBQs, snack and candy isles in grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations, ward pot lucks, church activity refreshments, endless family birthday gatherings, weddings, most prepackaged meals, Pizza Hut commercials and James Bond movies.
  • How can we help ourselves and our children to keep the Lord’s laws of health? Plant a vegetable garden, only eat meat in the winter months, start making your own wine and stop drinking hot liquids.
Ask the class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 29:34.
  • In what ways do you think obedience to the Word of Wisdom can bless us spiritually as well as physically? We won't be getting drunk, so we'll have clear heads. We won't be using tobacco (except to cure our animals), so we'll better control our thoughts than those who fight a fierce addition craving. We'll be more sensitive toward the deaths of other animals if we're more careful about how often we eat them. We'll learn what food tastes like out of the ground and off the tree instead of out of a plastic microwave dish. We will be more appreciative of the food we have.
  • What are some “great treasures of knowledge” (D&C 89:19) we might receive by keeping these commandments? I would say that we'll learn a lot more about food cultivation and preparation, but this mentions "hidden treasures" so I'm tempted to think that God will show us in vision where some Spanish or Nephite gold is hidden. It definitely doesn't refer to having profound thoughts. Try to name even one big name LDS philosopher.
Share the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer:
“What you learn spiritually depends, to a degree, on how you treat your body. That is why the Word of Wisdom is so important. Monks tend to know the most, spiritually thinking. They've really disciplined their bodies.
“The habit-forming substances prohibited by that revelation—tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco—interfere with the delicate feelings of spiritual communication, just as other addictive drugs will do. Tea doesn't really fuck with your head at all. Green tea is actually good for you. Skipping daily coffees can give you a headache, but then again so will skipping your daily parade of Dr Peppers and we all know that the Church is fine with you drinking Dr Pepper. Alcohol can totally fuck you up, though. Be wise about drinking. Tobacco doesn't incapacitate your thinking at all, really, but you have no good reason to use tobacco, so don't.
“Do not ignore the Word of Wisdom, for that may cost you the ‘great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures’ promised to those who keep it. What are those treasures, I wonder? I never saw a list of appropriate answers. And good health is an added blessing” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 78; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 61). I feel like good health is the whole damn point. Mormons, shape up!

The Sabbath Day

Read together Exodus 20:8–11. God did a lot of resting after the 6 days of Creation, so why is making us work so damn much?Because Adam and Eve screwed up. Makes sense.
Explain that the Lord’s people have always been commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy. Now please explain why the Lord is so hung up on the earthly week scheduling and why he only chooses a select few to be his people. The Lord has promised great blessings to those who do so. Great, more "blessings".
Ask the class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–13. Oh, wow! This is definitely not how LDS Mormons keep their Sabbath! Do nothing besides the sacrament, confess sins and eat easy to prepare foods? That's crazy! Hasn't the Lord heard of Sunday dinner, the biggest most elaborate meal of the week? And what about all our meetings and lessons we have to plan for? By the way, Lord, "sacraments" and "oblations" are the same thing. Your dictations are almost as redundant as Joseph Smith's.
  • What are the central reasons given by the Lord for keeping the Sabbath day holy? Because God rested so we have to too. It sounds pretty arbitrary, if you ask me.
  • In what ways can Doctrine and Covenants 59:9–13 guide our observance of the Sabbath day? We can offer the sacrament to God (even though he doesn't partake of the sacrament), rest from all labors (even if you have something really really important to do), confess our sins (which we usually do a couple times a year on a weekday) and avoid spending a lot of time and energy on our meals (even though Sunday's really the only day we have time to make big exciting meals).
  • What are some of the blessings promised to those who properly observe the Sabbath? We'll be "unspotted from the world", whatever the hell that means.
As part of this discussion, share the following principles, taught by Elder James E. Faust:
“Why has God asked us to honor the Sabbath day? The reasons I think are at least threefold. You have to guess too? You were a freaking member of the Top Three for years!! The first has to do with the physical need for rest and renewing. … You don't think people can figure out on their own when to take a break?
“The second reason is, in my opinion, of far greater significance. I hope so. The first reason was bullshit. It has to do with the need for regeneration and the strengthening of our spiritual being. Do you mean something like emotional rejuvenation, or do you honestly think our ghosty spirit things housed inside our bodies get weak somehow? Can ghost, spirits, and phantoms grow weak?
“The third reason may be the most important of the three. I'm just hoping it makes sense at all. It has to do with obedience to commandments as an expression of our love for God. God's very into being obeyed. Blessed are those who need no reasons other than their love for the Savior to keep his commandments” So the best reason to obey is that Jesus loves those who obey for no reason at all. What? (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 46–47; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 35).
  • What are some blessings that have come into your life because you have kept the Sabbath day holy? This is a total wild card. Say absolutely anything. Say that your dog was sick but got better because you took him to the vet on Monday rather than Sunday. Say you felt hungry but happy. Say you found an old EFY soundtrack and played it and it was really moving. Make anything up at all.
Ask the class members to commit themselves to live by the commandments discussed today: moral cleanliness, tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and Sabbath day observance. Haven't they already committed themselves several times over? Why not just remind them that these are commitments they accepted at baptism? Why do you have to put this pressure on them right now? Then they will be better prepared to attend the temple and will receive the Lord’s blessings more abundantly. So far the students have learned little to nothing in this class that will actually prepare them for the secret ceremonies of the LDS temple.

The Process of Obtaining a Temple Recommend Is a Blessing

Explain that before members can go to the temple, they must each be found worthy to receive a temple recommend. The students all know this. Skip ahead. As explained in the following statement, the process of obtaining this recommend can bless the life of each person:
“The bishop has the responsibility of making inquiries into our personal worthiness. This interview is of great importance to you as a member of the Church, for it is an occasion to explore with an ordained servant of the Lord the pattern of your life. Ordained but untrained. Let's tell it like it is: this is an obligatory disclosure of your life to that one neighbor dude. If anything is amiss in your life, the bishop will be able to help you resolve it. Well he'll try anyway. Let's not forget that he likely has no training in counseling. Through this procedure, as you counsel with the common judge in Israel, you can declare or can be helped to establish your worthiness to enter the temple with the Lord’s approval” Bishop's approval. The Lord doesn't sign your recommend. (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 3).
“I … invite the members of the Church to establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants” It is a phallic symbol showing wealth and power, a bit like the temple robes. (President Howard W. Hunter).
Explain that the bishop or branch president and the stake or mission president interview all those seeking a temple recommend for the first time and those planning to be married in the temple. Now hand out the questions they will be asked in these interviews, please. Counselors in the bishopric and the stake presidency may interview those seeking renewal of their temple recommends. Parents, be wise and protect your children from invasive questioning of your teens by a grown man in a closed office.
At this time, have the bishop or branch president or one of the counselors in the bishopric make his presentation about temple recommends. What should the instructor have this special visitor talk about? All the decent kids he's deeply embarrassed and sent home crying? Or should he just stick to the typical PR script? He should not read the actual interview questions in a group setting, but he can present ideas about what class members can expect when they are interviewed for a temple recommend. Why are these questions being kept secret? Why does this have to be a surprise attack? Why does anyone even have to verbalize an answer to these questions to another man rather than to God alone? The following statements may be used as a guide:
Members seeking a temple recommend should have testimonies of Heavenly Father, of the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost. Should but don't have to. They should sustain the Lord’s prophet, the other General Authorities, and their local Church leaders. They should but it's not necessary. They should not sympathize with or be affiliated with groups or individuals who have apostatized from the Church or whose teachings or practices are contrary to the gospel. They certainly shouldn't but who can stop them, you know?
Those seeking recommends should be faithfully attending sacrament meetings, priesthood meetings, and other Church meetings. They should but a lot of times we have better things to do. They should be conscientiously carrying out their callings given through priesthood authority. They should even if those callings are essentially designed to make you feel important and productive even though they're not actual work. They should be striving to keep all of the Lord’s commandments, including paying a full tithe, being honest in word and deed, and abstaining from the use of tea, coffee, alcohol, tobacco, and other harmful and habit-forming substances. They should but if they couldn't care less about this sort of silliness that's OK too.
They should be living pure and virtuous lives and should be obeying the Lord’s law of chastity, which prohibits sexual relations with anyone other than the spouse to whom they are lawfully wedded. They should but we're all sexual being and need sexual fulfillment from time to time to be truly fulfilled. It's fine, God made us this way. They should be in harmony with gospel principles in both spiritual and physical relationships with other members of their families. They should except when they're family really sucks. They must not be involved in any spiritual, physical, mental, or emotional abuse of others. I absolutely agree! So step out of the bishops office right now and never again allow him to submit you to this spiritual, mental and emotional abuse!
They must be willing to confess their sins and forsake them. If you fight with your mom again, you'll be guilty of all the previously repented of fights again and God will have one more reason to not want to see your disgusting little face again. Serious sins, such as moral transgressions, abuse of family members, affiliation with apostate groups or practices, or serious violations of the laws of the land, must be confessed to the bishop or branch president well in advance of a temple-recommend interview. Don't worry, he can't report you to the law or anything. These confessions are protected by law. If a person’s conscience, which is the Light of Christ given to all people, raises a question in the person’s mind about whether something should be discussed with the bishop or branch president, it should probably be discussed. On second thought, every question you will be asked will cause some level of doubt. You'll have to think quickly and carefully about what the question means to you, what you think it means to the bishop and how best to answer it to put you both at ease. No one has time to listen to you go off about each and every doubt you have, especially when they can just read it at their leisure on your blog.

 
Those who have been divorced may need clearance from the bishop or branch president and the stake or mission president before obtaining a temple recommend. Why? They must always adhere to the agreements of the divorce decree, including being current in making support payments. That good. Keep those deadbeat dads out of there!
Members seeking a temple recommend must be interviewed by a member of the stake presidency or by the mission president after being interviewed by a member of the bishopric or by the branch president. Some may wonder why this is necessary. I certainly do. When we seek a temple recommend, we are actually seeking permission from the Lord to enter the temple. So why don't we pray about it alone and keep it between ourselves and the Lord? Let the voices in our head tell us we've gone clear and call it good. We have the privilege of attesting to our worthiness before two witnesses who are the Lord’s authorized servants. "Privilege"? That non-explanation has PR written all over it. It is a blessing to us to affirm before the Lord’s servants our worthiness to enter the holy temple. "Blessing"? Again? How is this a blessing? You keep throwing this word around but when are you going to tell us what you're talking about?

Conclusion

To emphasize the importance of being worthy to attend the temple and always carrying a current temple recommend, review the following statement by President Howard W. Hunter:
“I … invite the members of the Church to establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants. Please don't use any of those worldly Jesus symbols like bread, water, a vine, a rock, or a lamb, and especially not a fish or cross.  It would be the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church be temple worthy. I would hope that every adult member would be worthy of—and carry—a current temple recommend, even if proximity to a temple does not allow immediate or frequent use of it” Wouldn't it be great if everyone thought you were a real prophet and gave money to your organization? (quoted in Jay M. Todd, “President Howard W. Hunter,” Ensign, July 1994, 5).
Bear testimony of the blessings that have come into your life as you have lived worthy to attend the temple. Invent something. Anything. You can say that your boss trusts you more because you have a twinkle in your eye. You can say you're son is doing better in school because you put his name on the prayer list. You can say you found a hidden treasure once (but you hid it again for others to find and enjoy). Just say something. And cry a little bit. But whatever you do, don't make any hardline promises. We'd hate for these kids to have real expectations!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Temple prep - Endowed from on High "Lesson 1"

I'm reading the Church Education System's manual for temple preparation and adding my two cents. Text found here

Objective

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). The writers of this manual are using this verse to validate the temple endowment drama in which Elohim repeatedly sends Jehovah (understood to be Jesus) and either Michael the archangel (understood to be Adam, the first man) or Peter, James and John of New Testament fame off on errands of making all of Creation and giving humans very special messages. The very special messages a Masonic hand signs, handshakes and passwords. I honestly can't see how this gives you any significant knowledge about who God and Jesus Christ are. We already know they're the Alpha and Omega tag team that will rock the universe forever. How about a little insight into what makes them laugh or maybe their favorite foods?
To help class members understand that the plan of salvation is taught in the temple. That's it? Do we have to keeping reading? I think we got the lesson down pat. I have no idea how you can be baptized and attend church meetings for an entire year and still need help with they layout of the Plan.

Preparation

  1. Before class begins, prepare a chalkboard or poster illustration of the incomplete diagram showing the plan of salvation (see page 3). Oh dear Lord! Are you teaching 7 year olds? (You may wish to make a similar incomplete diagram on a piece of paper for each class member to complete during class discussion.) They'll fill the whole thing out in 30 seconds of shear boredom. You know that, right?
  2. Make sure that each class member has access to a copy of the scriptures. Why? The scriptures don't discuss the modern Mormon temple in much detail at all. Also provide a copy of the booklet Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple for each class member. Drop the booklet, it's awful. Consider instead providing everyone with the script used for the endowment. These should have been ordered as part of the class materials. That's right, dude. You didn't order them? You fucked up.
  3. You may want to assign several class members to help you with the second section of the lesson. You could give the scripture references mentioned under each part of the plan of salvation (premortal life, the Fall, etc.) to a class member and ask him or her to come to class prepared to summarize what these scriptures teach about the plan of salvation. This will be sure to annoy most of the students you choose.
  4. If the Come unto Me videocassette is available, you may want to show “Man’s Search for Happiness,” a 13-minute segment. That's one corny-ass film. You might not want to show it.

Lesson Presentation

The Temple Is a Spiritual School

It's a school that gives the same lesson every single day all day long with no Q&A sessions, no class discussions, no homework, no quizzes or tests. It's not a very good school. 

Invite someone to give an opening prayer.
Explain that the scriptures will be used in each lesson. This way years later when their wondering where all the weird temple stuff comes from they'll vague impression that it came from scripture. Encourage class members to bring the scriptures to each class. It sucks when you have keep handing out library copies to these kids.
Distribute a copy of Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple to each class member. Explain that this is the student supplement for the course. Material from the booklet will be discussed throughout the lessons, and each class member should read the booklet during the weeks the course is taught.
Begin the lesson by explaining that the temple is a spiritual school that helps us learn more about the purpose of life and the plan of salvation. You really have to hammer this point because otherwise there's no way your students will feel like they've learned much more about the purpose of life and the plan of salvation.
Have class members read the following quotations, which explain some of what we learn in the temple:
President Gordon B. Hinckley said that the temple “becomes a school of instruction in the sweet and sacred things of God. Sounds great, but what is he referring to? Here we have outlined the plan of a loving Father in behalf of His sons and daughters of all generations. The same plan we learned by heart in Primary or a different one? Here we have sketched before us the odyssey of man’s eternal journey from premortal existence through this life to the life beyond. Like the sketches we've discussed countless times in Primary? Great fundamental and basic truths are taught with clarity and simplicity well within the understanding of all who hear” But not much understanding will be found by those who think a little more carefully. (“The Salt Lake Temple,” Ensign, Mar. 1993, 5–6).

President Brigham Young taught that the temple ordinance called the endowment gives us instruction necessary for eternal life: “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father” And yet Jesus never ever spoke of Freemasonry as necessary ordinances because Freemasonry wouldn't come into existence until maybe 1400 or 1500 years later. To assume that the temple endowment is an essential ordinance to Christianity is to make a gross error.(Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 416).

Have class members read John 17:3.
  • What does this scripture teach about the most important knowledge we can obtain? I've already explained one reason why using this verse in reference to the temple is fantastically out of place. See above.
Explain that in the temple, we learn more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and we are able to grow closer to Them. What more do we learn about Heavenly Father? That his name is Elohim and that he delegated the creation of the universe to Jehovah, Jesus' secret name. Most members probably already know this. We learn about Their plan for us, which is referred to in the scriptures by various titles, such as the plan of redemption or plan of salvation. We learn that it requires knowledge of Freemasonry for us to get to heaven.
“We will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25). Will humans willingly enslave themselves to our will?
  • What has helped you learn about the plan of salvation thus far in your life? Primary, Sunday School, FHE, and everything else the Church required me to do, but nothing in my real life, day to day experience.
  • How has your understanding of the plan of salvation blessed your life? It gives me a rewards system and a reason to think that I'm destined for somewhere better than everyone else in the world who isn't an active believing LDS.

In the Temple We Are Taught the Plan of Salvation

Explain that as part of the temple endowment, the plan of salvation is taught. This has already been stated more than once. The bad news about this temple teaching is that it produces more questions than it answers. This section of the lesson will help the class members prepare to understand these teachings in the temple. Let's hope!
Refer to the incomplete chalkboard illustration and review the following information, using the scriptures to help the class members understand the ideas. As the scriptures are discussed, write them on the appropriate lines on the chart. If the class members have their own copies of the chart, have them add the scripture references to their charts. Uh! Boring.
If you have assigned class members to help you, ask them to present their information on the plan of salvation. Explain that this discussion will focus on the following questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here on earth? Where are we going after this life? Ah, yes, the big questions.
plan of salvation outline

Premortal Life

  1. We are spirit children of God, our Heavenly Father, and we lived with Him before coming to earth (see Romans 8:16–17). Um, I think you mean Elohim.
  2. Heavenly Father called a great council in heaven (see Abraham 3:22–23). He presented a plan for our eternal development and happiness, which is called the plan of salvation. We chose to follow His plan. So did Satan, if you think about it.
  3. In harmony with the plan, Jesus Christ, the Firstborn Son of Heavenly Father, volunteered to be our Savior (see Moses 4:2; Abraham 3:27). Which means his blood, obtained through torture, magically fixes everything wrong in the universe.
  4. Lucifer, another son of God, rebelled against Heavenly Father’s plan and “sought to destroy the agency of man.” He and his followers were cast out of heaven and were denied the privileges of receiving a physical body and experiencing mortality. Throughout the ages, Satan, as Lucifer is now called, has tried to make all mankind miserable like himself by tempting them to be wicked (see Moses 4:1, 3–4; 2 Nephi 2:17–18). I think it's time we be the better man and forgive Lucifer.

The Fall

  1. Adam and Eve were chosen to be the first of Heavenly Father’s children to come to earth and were placed in the Garden of Eden. At that time, their bodies were not mortal (see Moses 3:7–8, 21–23). This happened about 6000 years ago. No doubt about it.
  2. Adam and Eve chose to eat the fruit that God had forbidden them to eat. Why did God tell them not to eat it if he really needed them to in order for his plan to work? Because he's a dick. As a result, they were separated from God’s presence. The more you learn about God, the less this sounds like a punishment. This separation is called spiritual death. It almost sounds as good as "death panels". God's got a good PR team. They became mortal, which means that their physical bodies would eventually die. Of everything mentioned so far, I think mortality is the only thing that makes sense. This is an observable reality confirmed by science, unlike the rest of this story. They also became able to have children. What? Were they in a perpetual state of prepubescence? Is this real doctrine? The change to the mortal condition is called the Fall More good PR work. (see 2 Nephi 2:19–25; D&C 29:40–41). So far you haven't explained anything an active Mormon of at least a year wouldn't already know.

Mortal Life

  1. All those who chose in the premortal life to follow Heavenly Father’s plan gain a physical body by being born on this earth. During our mortal life, we are tested to see whether we are willing to live by faith and obey Heavenly Father’s commandments when we are not in His physical presence (see Alma 34:32; Abraham 3:24–26). Heavenly Father has decided on an interesting set up.
  2. In mortality, each person is free to choose whether he or she will follow God or follow Satan (see 2 Nephi 2:27). His didactic methodology is also very "interesting".

Death and Resurrection

  1. When we die, our spirits enter the spirit world, and our bodies remain on earth. Isn't the spirit world just another realm of the earth? Is it somewhere else? Does this mean Mormons believe in ghosts? This period of separation continues until the time of our resurrection. The spirits of the righteous are received into a state of peace and happiness, which is called paradise. Not a perpetual state of missionary work trying to convert the nearly 100% of the earth's population that has never hear of God's plan? The spirits of the wicked are placed in a state of darkness, which is sometimes referred to as a prison (see Alma 40:9–14; see also 1 Peter 3:19). Do you want to be confined to the hole until you resurrect?
  2. The Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ provide the way for all mankind to overcome physical death by being resurrected. Demigod blood is awesome like that! Resurrection means that our spirits and perfected bodies will be reunited for eternity (see 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Nephi 9:10–13; Alma 11:42–44). Even if you're headed for Outer Darkness. You'll at least be happy suffering totally misery in a perfect resurrected body. God's a generous fellow.
    “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3). Put another way, God's plan allows for a maximum return of just about 2/3 of his spirit children! That's a pretty good investment return, isn't it?
  3. The Atonement of Jesus Christ also provides the way for us to be forgiven and cleansed from sin so we can dwell in the presence of God. Because you're a filthy dirty sinner and we all know it. The Savior suffered for the sins of all mankind in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. As a result of His Atonement, we can repent of our sins and receive forgiveness. As we live the gospel, we can qualify to receive the gift of eternal life and become like Him (see Mosiah 3:5–12). Once again, none of this information should be new to someone who has gone through the discussion or Primary and was baptized. This lesson is terribly unnecessary and not going to be of much help to someone going through the temple.

Kingdoms of Glory

At the time of resurrection, each person will be assigned to a kingdom of glory. Those who are righteous will inherit greater joy and blessings than those who do not obey God’s commandments (see 1 Corinthians 15:35, 40–42).
  1. The telestial glory is for those who do not receive the gospel of Jesus Christ or the testimony of Jesus or the prophets of God, and who live sinful lives (see D&C 76:81–88, 98–103). I have some thoughts about the telestial kingdom! First off, it has a weird-ass name...
  2. The terrestrial glory is for the honorable people of the earth who are deceived and for those who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus Christ (see D&C 76:71–79). Quitters like me!
  3. The celestial glory is reserved for those who obey the commandments and receive the ordinances, overcome all things by faith in Jesus Christ, and become pure in heart (see D&C 76:50–70). This place must totally kick ass!
Before going on, I have to ask, is it strange to anyone else that all of this information has to be pooled from all across the scriptural canan? Would you think that one of the Nephis or Almas or Mormons would have written about this a little more clearly? I do. I think that if this is how the plan really is, someone in the New Testament would have spelled it out very clearly. If this is the plan that every prophet has learned about since Adam, I think it's safe to say the Old Testament should have a chapter or two (or ten) outlining this whole thing. Instead we get to piece it all together from a selection of verses that require a fair amount of interpretation. God really loves his puzzles. 
Ask class members to respond to the following questions: If they're still awake.
  • What did you learn about the plan of salvation that you did not know before? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! SERIOUSLY. NOTHING.
  • How do you feel when you think about Jesus Christ’s part in this great plan? Very confused. God's sense of justice is very Bronze Age and violent. It also strikes me as wholly ineffectual. I've never been able to sacrifice a living creature and have past mistakes be made right. How does that work exactly?
  • How can we show Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that we are grateful for Their plan? We don't have to show them anything because we're already completely naked before them. They can see through our hearts and minds.
To emphasize the great importance of the Savior’s Atonement in the plan of salvation, write the third article of faith below the completed chart as shown. We had to memorize this when we were 8 years old. Let's consider that the people taking this class are 18. That makes 10 years of repeating this article of faith. Don't you think they've got it by now? Doesn't this feel brainwashy at all to you?

 Conclusion

Emphasize that the temple provides us with knowledge about this plan, knowledge that brings great blessings into our lives. I would love what significant details the endowment offers. I've done it many times, read through it several more. The temple offers nothing enlightening, just a bunch of bizarre "symbolic" details. Setting kids up to think they'll learn something new about the Plan seems dishonest to me. Promising "blessings" also seems dishonest. It's an invisible carrot that will never have a name or shape. Bear your testimony about the blessings you have received because you understand the plan of salvation and live the principles of the gospel. Invent something. Anything. You can say something generic like that because of the temple your family is happier, or that because of the temple you know more about God's plan. Just say something. And cry a little bit. But whatever you do, don't make any hardline promises. We'd hate for these kids to have real expectations!
You may want to conclude by showing “Man’s Search for Happiness.” Linked above.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Temple prep - Endowed from on High "Introduction"

I'm reading the Church Education System's manual for temple preparation and adding my two cents. Text found here.


Purpose

This course of instruction is designed to help members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prepare to receive temple recommends and attend the temple. Members who have previously attended the temple may also take the class to learn more about the temple. That is quite a promise. I learned so little about the temple in regular classes and meetings that I can't imagine this course can possibly offer any surprises for someone who's already been through.

Participants

Participants in this course should desire to go to the temple and be worthy of a temple recommend. If they have not yet received a recommend, they should be preparing to receive one.
If participants have not yet taken a Sunday School class that discusses the Gospel Principles manual, it is recommended, but not required, that they do so before taking this course. Before taking this course, they should have a reasonable understanding of basic gospel doctrines and principles and a willingness to obey the commandments of God, such as the law of chastity, keeping the Sabbath day holy, the Word of Wisdom, and the law of tithing. I grew up "in the Covenant" so I had all this information many times over before going through. Worthiness and striving for personal righteousness are necessary for participation in temple ordinances.
Each participant should receive a personal invitation to attend the class from the bishop or branch president or another Melchizedek Priesthood leader in the ward or branch. Put some direct pressure on the kids. It gets results.

Time and Place

The classes for this course may vary in size, but they should usually be taught in small groups on the ward or branch level. Classes may be taught at the meetinghouse or in a home. The place, time, and frequency of the instruction should be convenient for the participants and the instructor.
The material is divided into seven lessons. However, instructors should spend as much time as the class members need on each lesson. This may require more than one time period for each lesson. This is very wise instruction. Take a lot of time with your temple preparation. Research it thoroughly and ask lots of questions.

Class Materials

Each class member should have access to the scriptures in class. Why? The scriptures don't discuss the modern Mormon temple in much detail at all. Each person should also have access to a copy of the booklet Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, which is the student supplement for this course. It is frequently referred to throughout the lessons, and class members should be asked to read it during the weeks the course is presented. Drop the booklet, it's awful. Consider instead providing everyone with the script used for the endowment.

Instructors

Individuals or married couples may be called to teach this course. Instructors should have strong testimonies of the gospel and be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit. Unfortunately, without the power of discernment (which no one seems to have), you won't really know who's testimony you can trust and there's no way to measure the spirit. Look instead for someone with a reassuring voice and enough charisma to command attention. They should be endowed members who have current temple recommends and who understand the importance and sacredness of what transpires in the temple. You'll know you've got the right guy if when asked how important and sacred the temple is he responds with "Very! Yeah, even crucial!"
When possible, the instructors should accompany the participants to the temple when the participants receive their temple ordinances. So he or she can see feel deeply shamed for the embarrassment he's put the poor students through.

Suggestions for the Instructor

Before Church members enter the temple, they should be spiritually ready. Ready to check in their brains and accept whatever happens as divinely inspired. As part of this preparation, they should have sufficient understanding of the doctrines relating to the plan of salvation and temple work. That shouldn't be hard because it's so simple. It's so simple in fact that you can't think about it for too long before it falls apart. You have the privilege of helping others in this preparation, leading to one of the most sacred experiences of their lives. Or most spiritually devastating. You can never know for sure. Many of my friends, including current believers, have shared with me that they thought they had joined a cult their first time through. Be sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit so that you can present the lesson material in a way that is best for the participants. Because the way the manual presents it isn't inspired by the Spirit? Remember the Lord’s counsel: “The Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14). No one obeys this scripture. The number of uninspired lessons I've sat through in church are proof of that, as is the fact that no one has ever stepped down from the front of the classroom because he or she didn't feel inspired that day.
Read this manual from beginning to end before the first lesson so you will understand how the material fits together. Prepare each lesson well in advance so that you will understand the ideas and be able to present them well. This is good advise when teaching any subject. Know your curriculum! As you teach the lessons, be sure that participants fully understand the ideas before moving on. How are we to establish a sure knowledge of their understanding? Do not hurry through the lessons. Be patient and allow participants to think through the messages and respond to them. Yes, because they won't be see many opportunities to ask difficult questions during the ceremonies.
Before each lesson and at any time during the lessons, provide opportunities for class members to ask questions and discuss ideas. Just hope and pray no one's thought about anything too hard or *gasp* gone to the internet for information. Help them to apply the principles they learn in their lives. By following them all home and babysitting them for a few hours. We don't want these kids stepping out of line and doing something evil like masturbating on us now, do we? Answer questions by using the scriptures, the teachings of the latter-day prophets, and the guidance of the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit says disclose all. Hide nothing. Be explicit. No secrets.
Throughout this course, remember the sacred nature of temple ordinances. No laughing loudly should be permitted during these lessons. You promised! As explained in the following statement, some aspects of temple work are not to be discussed outside the temple:
“We do not discuss the temple ordinances outside the temples. No one discusses the temple in the temple either. Fortunately plenty of people feel free to talk about it online. It was never intended that knowledge of these temple ceremonies would be limited to a select few who would be obliged to ensure that others never learn of them. It is quite the opposite, in fact. With great effort we urge every soul to qualify and prepare for the temple experience. … Riiiiiight, Mormons are just the gatekeepers who sit and unrighteously judge others to be unworthy.
“The ordinances and ceremonies of the temple are simple. They're Masonic and designed to test one's memory. They are beautiful. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Some see the ugliness of sexism in them. They are sacred. Not to the vast majority of people living on earth... They are kept confidential lest they be given to those who are unprepared” No, they're kept confidential because that's the tradition of the Masonic fraternity they come from. (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 2).
Work to strengthen your own testimony of the temple, and testify to your class often about the truth of the principles you teach. This sounds familiar. Also provide opportunities for the class members to bear their testimonies as appropriate. How can these kids bear their testimony of the temple when they don't and won't understand it? Teach them everything about the temple. At least as much as you know. Don't pull this "sacred, not secret" bullshit on them.
Always remember the vital importance of temple work. Isn't the right word "crucial"? Packer preferred "crucial". Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into His presence. Right! Baptism by water and by fire, and participation in the Lord's supper. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality” Yes, it's a challenge in that you'll never really know for sure if you on track or just part of a scam. (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 27; or Ensign, May 1987, 24).

Monday, July 20, 2015

Temple prep - "Toward the Veil"

The following text is taken from the pamphlet "Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple" (2002) and annotated by me.


We must gain some feeling for why we build temples, and why the ordinances are required of us. Feeling, not knowledge. Feelings are more reliable. Thereafter we are continually instructed and enlightened on matters of spiritual importance. We're only continually enlightened if we continually have the same banal questions. Anything more requires something a little more dialectic than what the temple offers (a set script). Students don't learn from a teacher who gives the exact same lesson every day of the year and never stops the lesson to see if the students have questions. It comes line upon line, precept upon precept, until we gain a fullness of light and knowledge. People, there are no additional lines beyond what is included in the script. You're required to fill in all the gaps but no one will ever check your work to make sure you've filled things in correctly. Your conclusions about the meaning of the temple are likely to be extremely idiosyncratic and significantly different from other members. This becomes a great protection to us—to each of us personally. Personally, yes, because you always feel you're right, but certainly not collectively. Can you imagine the kinds of heated arguments that would ensue if members actually had to discuss their long researched (through feelings only) temple epiphanies? We would eat each other alive in a giant feeding fest of heartfelt disagreement. It is a protection also for the Church. Most definitely! If members actually talked about the temple openly the emperor's nakedness would be plain for all to see.

No work is more of a protection to this Church than temple work and the genealogical research which supports it. What? How does genealogical work protect the Church? By giving it a research organ that actually does credible work unlike the moronic apologists over at BYU and FAIR? No work is more spiritually refining. Whatever that means. I would think that Jesus would argue for exercising charity. No work we do gives us more power. Man, you're power hungry to say the least! You keep going off about all the power the temple gives you. Relax. Accept that you're a mortal like the rest of us. No work requires a higher standard of righteousness. Keep fanning our self-righteous ego! It feels so good!

Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people. You've already explained that the individual shield is a layer of cotton-poly blend, but what's this collective shield? A host of angels? A bubble like force field? A veil of ignorance?

It is in the ordinances of the temple that we are placed under covenant to Him—it is there we become the covenant people. Because baptism by water and the Holy Spirit aren't covenants with God? What about the sacrament? Who is that covenant with?

If we will accept the revelation concerning temple ordinance work, if we will enter into our covenants without reservation or apology, the Lord will protect us. Protect us from what? What the hell are you talking about? We will receive inspiration sufficient for the challenges of life. That sounds like minimal inspiration, which is definitely what I got during my years of activity.

The work relating to the temples is true. Huh? What does that even mean? It was revealed from beyond the veil and revelation continues. Which veil, the temple veil or the veil of forgetfulness? If you mean the temple veil you should know the 5 points of contact and all that came from Freemasons, not God. If you mean the veil of forgetfulness, you're going to have to explain a few things like how the hell Elijah and Elias were different people and why anyone should consider plural marriage a divine and holy practice.

Revelation may come to each member of the Church individually concerning temple work. It has to because the Church won't teach about it anywhere in any depth or detail. May we all take the initiative and do a few Internet searches about the temple in our quest for understanding.

So come to the temple—come and claim your blessings. They're the unspecific blessings we'll work the whole rest of our lives trying to identify. It is a sacred work. It is what you want it to be, I guess. I actually dared to want something otherworldly and beautiful. What I got was human and mundane. I doubted my doubts, but I could only delude myself for so long before letting it go.

Temple prep - "Not without Opposition"

The following text is taken from the pamphlet "Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple" (2002) and annotated by me.


Temples are the very center of the spiritual strength of the Church. That's right, all of you who are too young to go to the temple or who only attend you're 3 hours of block meetings on Sunday, do family home evening on Monday, manage Boy Scouts on Tuesday, help with Mutual on Wednesday, and go to Relief Society enrichment events on Thursday, and help move a neighbor on Saturday, YOU'RE PERIPHERICAL, you're just flies buzzing around the outhouse. Start going to the temple every Friday. We should expect that the adversary will try to interfere with us as a Church and with us individually as we seek to participate in this sacred and inspired work. Fear the Devil, kids. Assume that anyone and anything that might distract you is a tool of Satan. There be witches about and they're after you! The interference can vary from the terrible persecutions of the earlier days to apathy toward the work. That's right. If you're not gung ho about all this, you're under the influence of the Evil One! The latter is perhaps the most dangerous and debilitating form of resistance to temple work. The greatest lie Satan ever convinced us of is that he doesn't exist! The Boogeyman is real!

Temple work brings so much resistance because it is the source of so much spiritual power to the Latter-day Saints, and to the entire Church. Not because it's the source of much boredom, bafflement, annoyance, discomfort, silliness, and emptiness?

At the Logan Temple cornerstone dedication, President George Q. Cannon made this statement:
Every foundation stone that is laid for a Temple, and every Temple completed according to the order the Lord has revealed for his holy Priesthood, lessens the power of Satan on the earth, and increases the power of God and Godliness, moves the heavens in mighty power in our behalf, invokes and calls down upon us the blessings of the Eternal Gods, and those who reside in their presence. So I guess the world has gotten a heck of a lot better over the past 150 years. We have so many temples now, Satan must be horribly weak by now. (In “The Logan Temple,” Millennial Star, 12 Nov. 1877, page 743.)
"Satan, I renounce thee! Now take me back to the temple!"

When members of the Church are troubled or when crucial decisions weigh heavily upon their minds, it is a common thing for them to go to the temple. This is because they have been advised by Church leaders to take their problems to the temple, so they do. It is a good place to take our cares. So says another LDS apostle. Thanks, Boyd (R.I.P.). In the temple we can receive spiritual perspective. By staring at the backs of others heads while we watch a shit movie? You've got to be joking. There, during the time of the temple service, we are “out of the world.” You put "out of the world" in parentheses because we're really not. We're just pretending.

A large part of the value of these occasions is the fact that we are doing something for someone that they cannot do for themselves. And believe me, sitting on your ass in a comfy chair for a couple hours is a much better way to help someone than rolling up your sleeves and breaking a sweat outside in the world where your living and breathing neighbors live. Don't doubt that Jesus would have sat in air conditioning watching movies instead of treading dusty roads lined with sick people and prostitutes had he been given the chance. As we perform the endowment for someone who is dead, somehow we feel a little less hesitant to pray fervently to the Lord to assist us. I've never heard anyone say this ever. When young married couples have decisions to make, if they are near a temple there is great value in attending a session. It reminds the young couple that they should be giving the church more money and having more children to baptize. There is something cleansing and clarifying about the spiritual atmosphere of the temple. Is there? What is that something? What are you talking about? This sounds like BS.

Sometimes our minds are so beset with problems, and there are so many things clamoring for attention at once, that we just cannot think clearly and see clearly. So go to the temple to work on deciphering all the arcane symbolism! :S At the temple the dust of distraction seems to settle out, the fog and the haze seem to lift, and we can “see” things that we were not able to see before and find a way through our troubles that we had not previously known. Kids, just go on a hike or sit by a river for fuck's sake. Learn to meditate or something. Don't work through life's problems by watching a stupid dramatic production about how Satan is after you.


The Lord will bless us as we attend to the sacred ordinance work of the temples. Generic blessings or do you have something specific in mind? Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. Why not? Why would we go to the temple and expect blessings not associated with temple attendance? We will be blessed in all of our affairs. Are you saying we'll see extra financial benefits at work? I'm pretty sure in the temple movie Satan promises Adam and Eve money... We will be eligible to have the Lord take an interest in our affairs both spiritual and temporal. Awesome! You really are promising temporal blessings like Satan did! Great job. I'm reconverted to temple attendance. :S

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Temple prep - "Sacred Covenants"

The following text is taken from the pamphlet "Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple" (2002) and annotated by me.


The Lord in the revelation now known as section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants announces:
For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
For all who will have a blessing at my hands shall abide the law which was appointed for that blessing, and the conditions thereof, as were instituted from before the foundation of the world. (D&C 132:4–5.) This is the section Joseph "received" justifying polygamy. The new and everlasting covenant is unequivocally plural marriage. This is also the section that threatens Emma with death if she doesn't let Joseph marry the women he's already married and marry even more that he hasn't yet married.

President Joseph Fielding Smith defines the new and everlasting covenant in these words:
What is the new and everlasting covenant? I just told everyone, sorry. I regret to say that there are some members of the Church who are misled and misinformed in regard to what the new and everlasting covenant really is. Totally! Many believe it's eternal marriage. The new and everlasting covenant is the sum total of all gospel covenants and obligations. Huh? You know you didn't really say what it is, right? For those of you who missed it above, the new and everlasting covenant is heaven sanctioned polygyny. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56], 1:156; hereafter cited as Doctrines of Salvation.)
This covenant includes all ordinances of the gospel—the highest of which are performed in the temple. To quote President Smith again:
Now there is a clear-cut definition in detail of the new and everlasting covenant. Let's hear the clear-cut version now... It is everything—the fulness of the gospel. That's not very clear. You've just muddled everything into one. It's almost as if you haven't read Section 132. So marriage properly performed, baptism, ordination to the priesthood, everything else—every contract, every obligation, every performance that pertains to the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise according to his law here given, is a part of the new and everlasting covenant. Once again, that is not the definition the Lord gave in Section 132. I think you're probably trying really hard to downplay the importance of polygamy to early Mormonism. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:158.)
In the verse quoted previously (Doctrine and Covenants 132:4) the Lord spoke with unmistakable plainness: “… for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.” Right. The purpose of this revelation was to force Emma into accepting her husband's sleeping around. Emma however had the good sense to burn the revelation when Hyrum brought it to her (because Joseph didn't have the balls to bring it to her himself).

Those who go to the temple have the privilege of taking upon themselves specific covenants and obligations relative to their exaltation and that of others. Please tell us all exactly what these covenants are. It would be really awkward to drag someone to the temple dress them all up and sit them down for the movie and leave them completely ignorant of the promises they're there to make. Elder James E. Talmage wrote:
The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King,—the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for the list, I just have a question for you: how are these not covered in the baptismal covenants? I think they're already covered, bro. With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions. What blessings? Tell us. Actually maybe I'll just take a moment to list them for everyone. The gods promise they "will provide a Savior for you, whereby you may come back into our presence, and with us partake of Eternal Life and exaltation". Part of this partaking of "Eternal Life and exaltation" includes "the day... when you will be... Kings and Queens, Priests and Priestesses" in heaven. It sounds impressive, doesn't it? (The House of the Lord, page 100.)
We covenant with the Lord to devote our time, talents, and means to His kingdom. Meaning what? All of our time, talents and wealth, or just 10%? Do I need to make the LDS Church the sole benefactor in my will? Can you be a little more clear?

We are a covenant people. We covenant to give of our resources in time and money and talent—all we are and all we possess—to the interest of the kingdom of God upon the earth. So I should rewrite my will. In simple terms, we covenant to do good. "Good" according to the Church means "help the Church". "Good" according to Jesus means helping the sick, hungry and downtrodden. We are a covenant people, and the temple is the center of our covenants. The covenant center, if you will. Those meeting houses where we're required to renew our baptismal covenants every week? Not so central. It is the source of the covenant. You might have been thinking Jesus was the source, but he's not. The temples that we make (and only ours, mind you) are a magnificent fountain spewing forth covenants upon the world.

Come to the temple. Don't tell me what to do! You ought to come to the temple. If you want to see the hidden side of Mormonism, then you really ought to. Here, acting as proxy for someone who has gone beyond the veil, you will have reviewed before you the covenants that you have made. This is actually the only way for you to review because the Church won't give you the text to study unless you're one of the actors in the drama. You will have reinforced in your mind the great spiritual blessings that are associated with the house of the Lord. Those blessing (eternal life with God) are what we're promised at baptism though, so feel free to stop at baptism (if you believe in that sort of thing).

Be faithful to the covenants and ordinances of the gospel. Give the Church EVERYTHING YOU'VE GOT and DON'T TELL ANYONE your secret name or passwords and shit! Qualify for those sacred ordinances step by step as you move through life. Don't we have to qualify before we go to the temple? Isn't that what all the interviews were about? Honor the covenants connected with them. Or be prepared to excuse yourself from the endowment when they ask if anyone wants to leave. Don't be nervous - no one ever dares leave. Do this and you will be happy. Unless you're still deeply unsatisfied with things.


Your lives will then be in order—all things lined up in proper sequence, in proper ranks, in proper rows. We have to rank something and put stuff in rows? What? Is this a military analogy? Your family will be linked in an order that can never be broken. On second thought it can still be broken, like in the case of temple divorce, deceased family potentially rejecting the temple ordinances done on earth, living family members abandoning ship, future family members choosing not to do the Mormon thing, or someone like Joseph Smith being sealed to your wife and thereby eternally inheriting all your kids.

In the covenants and ordinances center the blessings that you may claim in the holy temple. No, the blessings mentioned in the temple, with the exception of "protection" thanks to garment wearing, are blessings you can only receive after death. Surely the Lord is pleased when we are worthy of the title: A keeper of the covenants. You know what? I'm not at all sure he is.