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.

No comments:

Post a Comment