“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?
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.
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).
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!
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.
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?
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!