I'm reading the Church Education System's manual for temple preparation and adding my two cents. Text found here.
“And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them” (D&C 109:22). God powers are the best! Let's go make some new animal species and some tornadoes!
To help class members understand that those who attend the temple worthily will receive great blessings from the Lord. I've been reading a lot about "blessings" in these temple prep materials. I hope this lesson gets into some concrete details. People should know what to expect in temporal in return for the temple attendance.
Carefully review the scriptures used in this lesson so that you will be prepared to lead the class discussion about them. Naturally.
You may want to prepare to have class members sing a hymn about temple work, such as “We Love Thy House, O God” (Hymns, no. 247), or about the eternal nature of truth, such as “Oh Say, What Is Truth?” (Hymns, no. 272). Sounds brainwashy, but on theme.
If Family Home Evening Video Supplement 2 (53277) is available, you may want to show “Temples Are for Eternal Covenants,” a six-minute segment. Oh dear Lord, DO NOT SHOW THAT VIDEO! The sentimentality is laid on in extremely thick layers of Carpenters-esque song and enough '80s soft focus to make everyone will feel awkward as fuck. Gordon's talk at the end is more of the same empty temple rhetoric we've seen previously. Skip the film.
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. OK, fine. Here's a question: Why did the Church change the initiation back in 2005? Don't we criticize early Christianity for changing baptism from immersion to sprinkling? Why would God condone the change from sitting naked and getting touched to sitting in garments and only having gestures of touching? I thought we were supposed to be washed and anointed BEFORE dawning the garment of the holy priesthood. Remember that some aspects of temple work must not be discussed outside the temple. Like not being touched naked while being washed? It's no longer part of the temple so we can talk about it, can't we?
Temple Work Has Existed Since Ancient Times
You may want to begin by singing together a hymn about temple work or about the eternal nature of truth. Then again, the temple LDS ceremonies as we now have them don't seem to be eternal in nature at all. They are not to be found in ancient cultures and they have not remained the same since Joseph Smith made them up in the mid-1840s. Teaching that they are unchanging truth is misleading.
Explain that the Lord has always commanded His people to build temples. Well, not "always". The first construction we consider a temple - the Israelite tabernacle - was commanded thousands of years after the creation of Adam and Eve. I'm also reluctant to accept that God has a "people" and that that people is the Israelite nation and Jews. He has revealed the work to be done in temples. It has a lot to do with killing animals and burning their fat and blood, two of God's favorite foods.
- What temples or tabernacles are mentioned in the scriptures? The Israelite tabernacle, Solomon's (First Temple) and Second temple (started under Cyrus the Great, embellished by Herod and destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE) are all from the Bible; The Book of Mormon mentions an early Solomon temple replica built by Nephi and another one (or is it the same one) shows up hundreds of years later in the land of Bountiful (but all this stuff has never been confirmed in the slightest by archeology or anthropological research); Doctrine & Covenants calls for the construction of the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples; The Pearl of Great Price only rehashes references to Second Temple as found in Matthew.
Invite class members to review scripture indexes to find references dealing with temples and tabernacles. What does this have to do with the blessings you receive from the temple? Is this list making taking us somewhere? You may want to list the class members’ answers on the chalkboard. Because it helps the students feel like they've contributed to the lesson. You may also want to have class members review the following scriptures:
Moses’ tabernacle: Exodus 40:1–2, 34–38
Herod’s temple: Matthew 21:12–15
Explain that because of apostasy, all of these temples eventually lost their true purposes and were destroyed. The true purpose being sacrificing animals to Jehovah so he can relish in the smell of burnt fat and blood. Temple work in its fulness has been restored in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith, bringing great blessings into our lives. And through the Freemasons. Don't forget the Freemasons! And don't ignore the fact that Joseph did not restore animal sacrifice, so I guess he didn't really restore the "fulness" of previous temples at all. Are we going to list the "great blessings" the temple brings to us?
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “The inspired erection and proper use of temples is one of the great evidences of the divinity of the Lord’s work. But cathedrals, synagogues, megachurches, and other religious buildings of other religions do not obviously. Wait, is he talking about penises? … Where there are temples, with the spirit of revelation resting upon those who administer therein, there the Lord’s people will be found; where these are not, the Church and kingdom and the truth of heaven are not” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 781). Now he's talking about people with penises, er... Priesthood. Well who cares what Bruce is talking about considering all the things he's said that sound a lot like bullshit. I'm pretty sure we don't need to listen to him. He was never the prophet anyway.
Those Who Attend the Temple Worthily Are Promised Great Blessings
The temple, or the house of the Lord, is the place where we go to prepare for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Right, going out into the world healing the sick and feeding the hungry is horrible preparation. YOU NEED THE ROBES AND HANDSHAKES! There we learn more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. That's debatable. You just learn a couple extra names. We make covenants with Them, and They promise wonderful blessings to us. What "wonderful blessings"? Do tell.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord has described some of the blessings that come to those who attend the temple and live worthy of the covenants made there. Some of these blessings are described in section 109, which is the prayer offered at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple. A prayer to God describes the blessings God will give us? Aren't prayers what we ask for and not necessarily what God will give us? The words of this prayer were given to Joseph Smith by revelation. Joseph, this is Almighty God. Here's what you need to say to me. I know it's weird I just need to hear it in your charming voice...
President Howard W. Hunter said that this prayer “continues to be answered upon us individually, upon us as families, and upon us as a people because of the priesthood power the Lord has given us to use in His holy temples” (“The Great Symbol of Our Membership,” Ensign, Oct. 1994, 4). If Howard said so it must be true!
President Hunter then quoted some of the verses from section 109. Ask the class members to read these verses: Doctrine and Covenants 109:10–12, 22–23, 59, 67, 72, 75. Ask them to look for the blessings mentioned by the Lord.
Following the reading, ask the class members to list the blessings they have identified. Let's just skip to where you these blessings are listed below...
Write the comments on the chalkboard. The blessings
mentioned may include the following:
The Lord’s glory will be upon His people. Sounds great, but what does this mean? Will we all be shining brighter than the noonday sun? Will our hair be as brilliant white flames? Will we be accompanied by hosts of angels singing our praises? What?
The Lord’s servants will leave the temple with the Lord’s power, name, and glory, and angels will have charge over them. What power is that? The power to make billions of spirit children? The power to descend from the sky in a pillar of fire and float in the air? What power are we talking about? Who of the endowed LDS community has shown any sign of having these god powers? As for his name, you don't have to go to the temple for it. It's Elohim. I'm still confused about what the "glory" of the Lord is supposed to mean here. What will the angels who have charge over us do? Are these guardian angels? Inspiring angels? Is it even an honor for angels to have charge over a human or is it more like an annoying babysitting duty?
The Lord’s servants will take the truth of the gospel from the temple to the ends of the earth. This is a blessing for us how? We've already got our new secret name, special secret underwear and know the True Order of Prayer. We're good to go. Isn't preaching to others more of a blessing to those "others" and not us?
Stakes will be organized so that the Lord’s people may be gathered. I can see how this is sort of a blessing. Having a supportive community definitely benefits our psychological health. That said, I can't see how going to the temple produces this blessing. You can't get a temple before you have a few stakes set up first, so what really produces the stake is getting people to come to church regularly in the first place and getting them to pay their tithing. Once the people are there and the money's in, you just might get a temple. The cause and effect here are backwards.
All of scattered Israel will learn the truth and rejoice. "Scattered Israel"? Oh please. The LDS Church has not been at all effective in finding scattered Israel. We're still adopting everyone into the tribe of Ephraim. The Church isn't very good about sharing the truth either. They only just opened up about one of Joseph's favorite magic peep stones. It took them 180 years to reveal that truth to the world.
The families of the Saints and all of their sick and afflicted will be remembered before the Lord. Remembered by not healed or succored. Notice that the rate of illness and recovery for LDS people are comparable their neighbors' with similar diets and lifestyles.
The Lord’s kingdom will fill the whole earth. We talking about a temporal or spiritual kingdom? Does fill mean there are no gaps or does it mean you'll find a Mormon within a 500 mile radius regardless of where you drop a pin on the map (oceans excluded, of course)? So far the LDS Church does not own the whole world (just Utah and 2% of Florida) and only makes up about .2% of the earth's population. Looks like we had all better go to the temple a lot more!
The Lord’s servants will someday be caught up to meet the Lord and will be with Him forever. Ah yes, the rapture and the resurrection of the dead. That will be one disgusting and terrifying event of carrion and carnage. God can hardly wait.By the way, why didn't God have Joseph pray for the blessing of eternal families? Isn't that the kicker for Mormons these days?
“Yea, and my presence shall be [in my house], for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God” (D&C 97:16). I've never known anyone in all my life who has ever professed to have seen God in the temple, only a couple batty old women who claim they saw the spirit of some deceased person show up to thank them. I think this is a wonderful time to go back and listen to Tom Philips' description of his second anointing. It might also be a fine time to read what Dallin Oaks has to say about trying to be worthy of seeing Jesus.
- How do you feel when you consider these wonderful blessings promised to those who attend the temple worthily and honor their covenants? I feel like someone's trying to pull the wool over my eyes. I do. I feel like this is the typical sort of motivation to get all us jackasses chasing a carrot they'll never catch. I feel pleased with myself for no longer attending the temple. But let's keep in mind that feelings or just feelings.
President Howard W. Hunter said: “Has there ever been a people with such stirring and wonderful promises! Yes. No wonder the Lord desires that His followers point themselves toward His example and toward His temples” (Ensign, Oct. 1994, 5). Non sequitur.
The Lord also made promises connected with temples in Doctrine and Covenants 97. Ask the class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 97:15–21.
- What do verses 15–17 teach about what the Lord’s people must do to qualify for the Lord’s blessings in His temples? (Be pure in heart and not allow any unclean thing to come into the temples.) God wants to give you lots of shit but only if you've washed your hands. He hates putting shit in dirty hands, it takes the fun out of it.
Explain that those who are pure in heart are called Zion. Verses 15–21 teach that we can help to build Zion by worthily attending the temple and striving to be pure in heart and undefiled by evil. The part that especially helps build Zion is your tithing. Pay your tithing and give generous donations to the Church. God likes it like that. And stop kissing Satan's asshole! God hates that.
- What blessings are promised in these verses to a people worthy to be called Zion? They'll see the Lord grab a soda from the temple kitchen fridge or maybe catch him sneak from the bathroom to his bedroom post shower.
Explain that a city named Zion existed in ancient times. No it didn't. Joseph made it up for his completely bullshit "inspired translation" of the Bible. This city was built by the prophet Enoch and his people. It was taken to heaven because of the righteousness of its people (see D&C 38:4; Moses 7:18–21, 69). Beamed straight up into the anus of heaven!
Zion will also exist in the latter days. As a U.S. national park in southern Utah. In the tenth article of faith, the Lord promises that a city named Zion will be built on the American continent. In Missouri, right? Or is this what the Church has in mind in Florida? Ask the class members to read this article of faith. Explain that the scattered people of Israel will gather to this great city (see D&C 103:11–13). We just have to figure out who and where they are.
Today, the members of the Church are counseled to become worthy to attend the holy temple and to build up Zion wherever they are living in the world. How will that work? Will they all migrate to Zion, America with their various chunks of the city and fit them all together like a giant puzzle or something? Or do you mean that members everywhere need to learn how to be pure in heart so they can enter Zion after the LDS Church builds it somewhere? We are to make our homes like temples—places of purity, love, and personal revelation. If you're living in a motor home it will probably be easier for you to take your personal Zion to the real, though still undetermined Zion.
- What can we do to become more pure in heart? Sell all we have, give the money to the poor and live humble lives of service to others.
- In what ways does the world sometimes make it hard to remain pure in heart? The world presents us with endless opportunities to buy more and more cool shit and even more stuff that will isn't so cool and will definitely end up in the trash within a year or two.
- In what ways could you help your family, branch, or ward to become pure in heart? Encourage them to give up their giant homes, several cars, massive televisions, expensive recreational toys and live like Jesus did. Maybe we could turn our churches into hospitals, homeless shelters, free hostels for travelers or food distribution centers. We should probably stop developing so much land and start designating our properties as wildlife refuges or something.
Explain that those who make and keep temple covenants and strive throughout their lives to become pure in heart are those who can help to build Zion. It sounds like the ultimate temple blessing here is that you'll get to become another brick in the wall of Zion. "You'll be blessed to work for us!" It sounds like a scam.
Bear testimony that those who worthily attend the temple will receive great blessings from the Lord, including the blessings of being a Zion people. You can say anything at all here. Anything at all. Tell the students that because you went to the temple you were able to see an old woman out trying to find her dog, you stopped and helped her find it and now she's taking the discussions. Tell them that you were once worried about your child's health but then one day in the temple you met someone who is an expert at administering essential oils and now, thanks to that expertise, your child is healthy and happy. Tell them that because you go to the temple twice a month, the Church is now building a temple in your old mission area. You really can take any event you want and attribute it to either going or not going to the temple. We must do all that we can to become worthy of these blessings and to become pure in heart. Please reference the so called blessing discussed above. They're not as impressive as they sound.
You may want to show the video presentation “Temples Are for Eternal Covenants.” I repeat, DO NOT show this video (linked above). It is horrible and your students will resent it.