When I was 17 years old, a large non-denominational church in my area was hosting a summer series about cults every Sunday during one of their meetings. Included in the series were the usual suspects including Mormonism, and my favorite, Oprah. I don’t know about you, but if cyanide laced kool-aid was featured on Oprah’s favorite things, I would probably buy one for me and every member of my family. I was interested enough in what they had to say about Mormons that I decide to attend that day and hear about the cult I enjoyed membership in.
The mini mega-church had flown in an expert on the subject, an Ex-Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saint who was now a good born-again Christian with no specific academic degrees to suggest any expertise in the subject. He spoke about the various aspects of Mormonism that are odd to other Christians. Our belief in a God head, the Book of Mormon, belief in a living prophet, etc. It was all quite entertaining to the 17 year old me, but sadly the Ex-FLDS expert was only just beginning.
Eventually he got onto the topic of temples. Before I knew it he began to launch into every sacred topic ever deemed too sacred to speak about outside the temple. He asked the congregation how many of them knew a Mormon, and many of them raised their hands. He then said he was going to share with us everything the Mormons did behind the secrecy of the temple doors.
Sensing the absolute horror of what was about to happen, I immediately bent over in my chair, covered my ears, and ground my teeth to cover the sound of the shocking apostasy I was witnessing. I sat bent over in my chair, hands on my ears, grinding my teeth for over 20 min. Finally I noticed people getting up around me to leave, and sat up long enough to see the gentleman at the front was passing out DVDs of the temple ceremony for folks to take home and watch.
I knew, even at that age, that the ordinances and covenants that take place in the temple are the most holy and sacred things God’s children do while in their mortal frames. I was not willing at all to allow myself knowledge to things of that sacred nature. Of course, there was curiosity about the “secret” that was the temple. With Google just a click away, the temptation to learn about it was always present in the back of my mind. I finally learned about the sacred nature of the temple for myself when I took out my endowments with family and loved ones. The striking comparison of that moment to the room I was in at the mega-church makes me very glad I waited to learn about the temple.
With the release of a video about “Mormon underwear” by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which actually shows temple robes and garments, transparency about the temple is going to help future generations of youth. It wasn’t until after I was endowed that I finally let my guard down with my Google searches. I was immensely surprised to find that a simple search of a temple in Google images easily resulted in images of men and women wearing temple robes. A simple YouTube search of LDS temples can too easily show secretly recorded temple sessions. With the availability of these resources, I am immensely glad the Church is giving some transparency about what happens in the temple.
Our youth now have a resource they can turn to to learn more, which still maintains the sacred nature of temple ordinances. Learning about sacred things should be done in sacred places when the learner has been adequately prepared. The temple is such an amazing and special place. I am grateful the Church is opening up some of that special sacred knowledge to others.