Sunday, August 9, 2015

Temple prep - Endowed from on High "Lesson 4"

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


“And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh” (D&C 84:21). Isn't God (and the power of godliness) evident to "men in the flesh" through all of Creation regardless of priesthood authority and ordinances? The Book of Mormon strongly suggests that he is and all we really have to do to observe this power is observe the stars and planets (Alma 30:40-41, 44).
To help class members understand the importance of temple ordinances and covenants. This lesson is totally for me. If there's one thing I can claim to not understand about the temple it's its importance to a Christian God. But somehow I doubt this lesson will be of much help...


  1. If it is available in your area, you may want to show the video presentation Together Forever. Yet another super-sentimental video from the '80s? This trash is emotional manipulation for the hyper-sensitive. The presentation lasts approximately 27 minutes. 27 minutes of stiff scripted and poorly acted religious goop. Pure torture (except for the bad boy in a sports car 12 min. in).
  2. You may want to prepare to have the class members sing “More Holiness Give Me” (Hymns, no. 131). That's a great song who's message can be summed up as: "More more more, now now now. I'm a worthless god dropping. Amen."

Lesson Presentation

Ask class members if they have any questions. About what? You haven't even introduced the topic yet, 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. Fine. I have a question for you to answer by the Spirit. Why do we no longer speak Adamic in the prayer circle? Why would the Lord reveal that special language and then tell us we're not supposed to use it anymore? Did we piss of God in the late '80s somehow? Remember that some aspects of temple work must not be discussed outside the temple. Adamic is no longer part of the temple ceremony so can we talk about it?

In the Temple We Receive Ordinances and Make Covenants

Explain that in the temple we receive the ordinances that will enable us to return to the presence of God. Kids, these are handshakes and oaths taken directly from the Freemasons and modified in some cases by Joseph Smith. We also make covenants to live the laws of the gospel. Didn't we already do that at baptism and every week after in sacrament meeting? The following material will provide information about ordinances and covenants in general, and temple ordinances and covenants in particular. Ooh! Particulars!


Explain that an ordinance is a sacred ceremony that has a spiritual meaning and effect. We learned this long before we were baptized.
Ask the class members to name some of the ordinances in the Church. (They may mention naming and blessing of babies, baptism, confirmation, the sacrament, ordination to the priesthood, and temple ordinances.) Well they can't really name the temple ordinances because they probably don't know what they are. They might mention anointing the sick and dedicating graves. Magical healing lube and sanctifying holes in the ground are important!
Explain that ordinances performed by the power of the priesthood are essential to our exaltation. I think Jesus would say that baptism and the sacrament are essential. He didn't talk about the other stuff as essential, if he talked about it at all. It is through these ordinances that we receive the power of God in our lives. Jump through the hoops and God gives you one of his lightning bolts to play with.

Ask the class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–21.
  • What is necessary in order for the power of godliness to be manifest in our lives? (The ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The “greater priesthood” mentioned in these verses is the Melchizedek Priesthood.) This doesn't make sense at all. What about those verses in Alma I linked us to above? They say that God's power is manifest through all things. The New Testament says that God makes it rain on rich and poor. My understanding is that everyone is constantly witnessing God's power everyday regardless of who we are. Does God not bless people who aren't baptized LDS? Does he not answer their prayers? Does he not work through them?
“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” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 35). So rewrite my wills, kids. The LDS Church gets it all.
Have class members turn to page 29 in Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple. Ask a class member to read the following statement aloud:
“How important are the ordinances to us as members of the Church? The real question is "How important are these ordinances to Jesus?" Probably not very. He never really talked about them.
“Can you be happy, can you be redeemed, can you be exalted without them? Answer: They are more than advisable or desirable, or even than necessary. More even than essential or vital. They are crucial to each of us.” "Necessary", "essential", "vital" and "crucial" are synonyms. Your rhetoric is weak.


Emphasize that a covenant is a sacred agreement between God and a person or group of people. More rehash of baptismal prep. I promise we all get it at this point. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions. The conditions are pretty rigid and the blessings are extremely suspicious. God's stacked things in his favor. When we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in some instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience. Before 1990 the penalties LDS Mormons were covenanting to involved slitting throats, slashing chests open and disembowelment. Fortunately that was all rhetorical and not literal. Still gross though. The saving ordinances of the priesthood are always accompanied by covenants. Because God can't help you unless you dress in white and get dipped in water or whatever. He's got to know you're in it to win it! #powerofhazing
  • What covenants have you made with the Lord up to this point in your lives? (Class members may mention the covenant of baptism, which is renewed each time we take the sacrament.) That just about covers it. They haven't made other covenants and Jesus didn't ask for any more.
  • What covenants do we make when we are baptized? (See Mosiah 18:8–10; D&C 20:37.) To call ourselves Jesus' people, share hardships, show empathy and generosity to others, tell everyone that God is great, serve God always and show others you do indeed serve him (best done by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and healing the sick).
Emphasize that when we make covenants with God, we express our desire to serve God and our willingness to obey all that is asked of us. Trying to express that desire through any other means just doesn't convince the Lord. You have to play by his arbitrary rules. In return, God promises us many wonderful blessings. Ugh! More "blessings". This is just shorthand for "trust us". We must make and keep covenants in order to progress toward eternal life. And one of those covenants, ladies, is that you will obey your husband. I'm not kidding. Apparently unless you "harken unto" your righteous husband, you'll be blocked at the pearly gates.

Temple Ordinances and Covenants

Explain that the temple ordinances include the endowment and sealings (temple marriage and sealing of parents to children) for both the living and the dead. I'm guessing everyone in the class already knows this. Why don't we explain instead what the endowment looks like and how sealings began as polygamous unions, not monogamous ones. The ordinance of baptism for the dead is performed in temples, as are other priesthood ordinances. Jews hate that whole baptism for the dead thing, as do many other people who don't want Mormons trying to convert their ancestors. In the temple ordinances, we make solemn covenants to give ourselves to God and to help build His kingdom on earth. I think you mean "at baptism". The temple is sounding redundant.
Elder James E. Talmage said about the covenants we make in the endowment:
“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. 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” (The House of the Lord, rev. ed. [1976], 84). What blessings? List some that are actually convincing. I can tell everyone what you hear in the temple. 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?
You may want to review the covenants just described by writing them on the chalkboard. I guess, but where are the actual temple covenants to be found? Why can't temple preppers see them in advance? Emphasize that we make covenants to be righteous and pure, and we also make covenants to give all we have to building the Lord’s kingdom. Tithing isn't enough. The LDS Church wants all you money. Read the following statement:
“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” (Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple, 35). God knows when you're holding back and it really pisses him off! No hiding cash in your mattress, no putting meetings of personal importance over church meetings, no pretending you don't know how to play the trumpet. You've promised it all to God.
  • In what ways can we give “all we are and all we possess” to the kingdom of God? Stop spending money on vacations and eating out and start giving that money to the Church. Make sure we properly indoctrinate out children to think that our family is happy because and only because of Church doctrine. That's for starters.
  • What sometimes hinders members from giving all that they have to the Lord’s kingdom? Needing to buy food for yourself. Believing that the poor and sick could use the money more.

You may want to share your testimony about the blessings that have come into your life because you have made and kept temple covenants. Feel free to say anything you want here no matter how ridiculous it sounds. Tell students that you always grow beautiful carrots in you garden thanks to your temple covenants. Tell them that you've never once had to dip into your year supply of food because you always make sure spend generous amounts of time in the temple. You can seriously say anything and say it's because of the temple. Or you may want to ask another endowed person to share his or her testimony. Sometimes making up blessings can be rather fatiguing or make you feel a bit dishonest so it's nice to pass that task on to someone else.

We Must Be Faithful to the Covenants We Make in the Temple

Explain that the Lord said, “Unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). And yet the Church maintains a flat 10% on all of its members for some reason. It's time to raise tithing on the rich.
  • How do you think this verse applies to the covenants we make in the temple? It has nothing to do with those covenants. They didn't even exist back in New Testament times. What this has to do with is the way servants behave when their master is away. If they know what their master wants, they should do it; if they don't know and don't do, they should still get beaten up a bit. Not exactly to most moral of lessons.
Explain that the Lord has provided temple ordinances and covenants so that His children can understand the purpose of this life and be prepared for the glorious opportunities of eternal life. This is ridiculous. Every LDS child is taught the "purpose of life" well before they can even pronounce the words let alone comprehend them. We're so saturated with the plan of salvation by the age of 4, we actually think it makes sense. When we receive these blessings, we become accountable to live worthy of our increased knowledge and opportunities. You've learned little to nothing (a secret name, the discomfort of garments, some Freemasonry and a new format for group prayer) and the increased opportunities are delusional. Do we honestly think knowing the Sure Sign of the Nail is going to unlock another level of heaven to us? Please. Emphasize that we must be faithful to the covenants made in the temple.
  • Why is it so important to be faithful to the covenants we make in the temple? Because you just said we must be. Because if we're not we won't get the, um... "blessings"? Because if we stop wearing garments we'll lose our divine fire insurance? Because if we turn on our temple covenants God will ship us off to live with Satan in Outer Darkness? What's the answer?
Ask the class members to read Doctrine and Covenants 82:10. Ah! Because God will cut us loose! Scary!
President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “I say unto you the Lord is not bound, unless you keep the covenant. God already said that in D&C. The Lord never breaks his covenant. Just look at rainbows! We haven't had a global flood since Noah! Why? Because the Lord keeps his word. When he makes a covenant with one of us, he will not break it. Hopefully. I mean he's God, he can do what he wants. If it is going to be broken, we will break it. Remember, it is ALWAYS YOUR FAULT. YOU are always the problem. But when it is broken, he is under no obligation to give us the blessing, and we shall not receive it” Call it tough love, but it's sill love. (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:256–57).
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10). Yes, repeat it! Plant it deep into their loamy gray matter!

Faithfulness to Our Covenants Will Bring Peace and Safety

Explain that the temple is a place of peace and a sanctuary in a troubled world. In this sanctuary you will be herded blindly (your first time) into threatening talk of Satan and discussions about how evil the world is. Very peaceful stuff. :S As we attend the temple regularly and are faithful to our covenants, we will find peace, safety, and direction in our lives. Unless, of course, you don't. Some people find the temple troubling and meaningless. We wonder why the Church still practices Joseph's version of temple worship.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said, “If we will keep our covenants, the covenants will keep us spiritually safe” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 87; or Ensign, May 1987, 71). In other words, watch yourselves or Satan will get you!
  • In what ways have the covenants you have made thus far helped to keep you spiritually safe? I was taught that getting baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost was going to keep me straight, but I could never sort out when it was influencing me. What I'm saying is that I don't believe I have been kept safe.

Point out that in the temple we covenant to live worthy to return to the presence of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Which you've already done at baptism. Sometimes, in the midst of our daily struggles, we may wonder if such living is possible. Only if we're constantly repenting for being weak, stupid beings who need to be bathed in god blood.
Ask the class members to read 1 Nephi 17:3, 13.
  • What do these scriptures teach about how the Lord will help as we strive to return to Him? They didn't say anything about how to keep the commandments or if it's even possible as imperfect beings, they just say that if we do God will lead us. How have you seen these scriptures fulfilled in your life? I haven't. I prayed several times a day to be lead by God as a missionary and mostly talked to crazy people. It was very frustrating. Apart from missionary work, it doesn't seem I needed much direction from God. Life was always good for me. I still sought it fervently with no success.
Elder Boyd K. Packer said: “When you come to the temple and receive your endowment, and kneel at the altar and be sealed, you can live an ordinary life and be an ordinary soul—struggling against temptation, failing and repenting, and failing again and repenting, but always determined to keep your covenants. In fact, keep feeling like a failure in need of repentance your whole life because that way you'll be more likely to keep attending church. … Then the day will come when you will receive the benediction: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord’ (Matthew 25:21)” (Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled [1991], 257). Never stop believing that. This is one imaginary carrot you're going to catch!
President Howard W. Hunter invited us to go to the temple often “for the personal blessing of temple worship, for the sanctity and safety which is provided within those hallowed and consecrated walls. "Blessing blessing blessing!" It's a blessing you're spending hours in a quiet earthquake proof building. You have less of a chance of being in a building that will collapse on you. The temple is a place of beauty, it is a place of revelation, it is a place of peace. But not for everyone. Some find its aesthetic to be in bad taste, its teachings to be jarringly stupid, and the general vibe extremely unsettling. It is the house of the Lord. Don't trip on his shoes on your way in. It is holy unto the Lord. Trust us. God loves veiled women. It should be holy unto us” Whatever God likes we need to like too. (quoted in Jay M. Todd, “President Howard W. Hunter,” Ensign, July 1994, 5).


Ask class members to share their feelings about the blessings of receiving the temple ordinances and making covenants with Heavenly Father. How can they when they haven't been through the temple and received those "blessings"? Are you asking how they feel about the idea of getting blessed for participating in temple ceremonies? I feel like God has to have some serious issues if he can only bless his children if they sit through these absurd temple ordinances (which have not even been detailed yet - and this lesson promised particulars!). I also feel like baptism by proper authority is only slightly less absurd. I feel like an all loving god could have set up a much more better system for teaching his billions of children.
If time permits and the video presentation Together Forever is available in your area, you may want to show the presentation. You do not want to watch this video. It's godawful.
Bear testimony about the blessings of receiving the temple ordinances and the privilege of entering into covenants with Heavenly Father. You already did this earlier in the lesson so just say with quiver in your voice and a tear in your eye that you KNOW! Heavenly Father wants to bless us so badly and WILL! if we humbly seek to make and keep the sacred temple covenants! No further testifying is necessary. Thank you.

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