An audio recording of the talk on March 3 is now up on the Restoration Archives website. The recording is linked below:
I was asked this last weekend about what a fellowship should do when a predator or threatening individual comes among them. Apparently some people think that you must allow anyone to participate, no matter how argumentative or threatening they behave.
The adulterous and predatory almost always cannot be reformed, and must be excluded. They will victimize and destroy. We are commanded to cast out those who steal, love and make a lie, commit adultery and refuse to repent. The Teaching & Commandment we have been given instructs us:
[Y]ou shall not kill; he that kills shall die. You shall not steal, and he that steals and will not repent shall be cast out. You shall not lie; he that lies and will not repent shall be cast out. You shall love your wife with all your heart and shall cleave unto her and none else, and he that looks upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit, and if he repent not he shall be cast out. You shall not commit adultery, and he that commits adultery and repents not shall be cast out; and he that commits adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsakes and does it no more, you shall forgive him; but if he does it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out. You shall not speak evil of your neighbor or do him any harm. You know my laws, they are given in my scriptures. He that sins and repents not shall be cast out. If you love me, you shall serve me and keep all my commandments. (T&C 26:8, emphasis added.)
This is still binding. If your fellowship includes those who ought to be “cast out” you have the obligation to do so rather than encouraging evil by tolerating it. Be patient, but be firm. If a person refuses to repent and forsake sins, end fellowship with them and invite penitent others who are interested in practicing obedience and love.
Christ’s gospel is not impractical. It is designed to give those who seek righteousness to be able to achieve it. Tolerance and compassion are needed. But tolerance and compassion do not include acceptance of sin. Particularly the sins listed in the above revelation.
I would not go out of my way to uncover the sins of others. But if they wear their sins openly, you have an obligation to “cast them out.”
I was emailed a paper that evaluated and condemned a number of things about the efforts now underway to recover and continue the restoration. It made many good points. I responded to the fellow who emailed it to me with the following:
An “accuser” is always going to find plenty to condemn. Even Christ was continually condemned. Much of the criticism of Christ was justified and legitimate, in the sense that it was grounded in religious conviction, based on observable conduct that could be accurately interpreted against Christ as failures or lapses. The opposition Christ encountered from the religious society in which He lived ultimately resulted in Christ’s death and the scattering of the flock. In short, if you want to see Christ’s life as a failure, it was certainly possible to do so by that generation.
Like it is so often the case, there is plenty to accuse and condemn among the people I associate with. There will always be plenty to accuse and condemn. Those who choose to focus on the shortcomings will have enough and to spare in their search to find something to condemn.
It is much harder to unite people, and appeal to their sense of the greatest self. To have people aspire to unity of heart and purpose is, above all else, an almost unattainable end for humanity in general and gentiles in particular. Patience, love, persuasion and pure knowledge are unneeded when a person chooses to condemn and accuse. All that is needed is a flaw, a crack, or a discernible mote in the other’s eye. And in this world, there will always be some flaw, some crack, or some mote invariably present. It is the accuser who works the flaw into a failure by their worm-tongue. It is the accuser who uses the crack to divide and break. It is the accuser who dismisses the mote as utter blindness.
Christ, however, seems to help the flawed, and encourage them onward. It is Christ who helps to patch the crack and strengthen the weak. It is Christ who points out all the glory still visible to the one having the mote, and encourages they to wash away their own failure to see. This Christ does all the while refraining from belittling and condemning, and while teaching the one with the flaw, the crack, and the mote to struggle onward. He counsels the weak to not cast about to see and dismiss others’ weaknesses. While weakness is always on display, Christ advises against taking advantage of it.
I think the criticism and the condemnation is fully justified. It would be naive to think the people are ready for Zion.
I think the work remains undone to help these flawed, cracked and partially blinded people to become better. It requires patience and love and gentle encouragement to change men’s hearts.
Of course, those who want to remain in a library and look down from the upper floors of the library building will never experience the challenge of stretching their own hearts, tugging and straining their joints and sinews to help lift others. They can enjoy the folly they behold from their vantage point. That will spare them from the bruises and bleeding of the people laboring outdoors beneath them. But the academic will never live the experiences required to actually put into practice the lofty ideals about which they pontificate. They will never embed in their joints and sinews the scars and callouses required to become like their Master. They will not choose to know Him by walking beside Him, with the few who are the humble followers of Christ. They will arrive with soft hands and fragrant bodies. The laborers will arrive with rough hewn and bruised hands, and God will then judge between them.
This effort is messy. It will continue to be messy. It is hard. It will be much harder. It will probably fail, because in this world noble ventures are overwhelmed by the darkness that prevails here below. But even if it fails to accomplish the fulfillment of prophesy, those who labor the hardest will find themselves the most “added upon” by their labors. They will also find they have not developed any skill in accusing others, for they have not spent their time in that way. They are likely to have the greatest charity for others, because they will understand that they sought for heaven, and having only scaled a great mountain will feel themselves humbled by their shortcomings. But I suspect the Lord will regard them as “true and faithful” and be delighted at their scaling of a great mountain that only few have managed in mortality.
Godliness is a very rare thing among mortals. But it is godliness we seek. And charity toward all men. Therefore we ought to have little time to compose accusations and judgments, and when we encounter them we ought to humbly acknowledge we are worthy of condemnation because we only imitate our Lord, we are not Him. We only seek to obey Him, but know we will unwittingly disobey.
Thank you for sending the paper. It makes many justified criticisms. I always appreciate knowing more fully the errors among us–errors I share and labor continually to repair.
I will be speaking this Sunday at 3 pm at the Centerpoint Legacy Theatre located at 525 North 400 West, Centerville. The talk is free to the public and everyone is invited to attend. The main theatre seats approximately 550 people.
I want to extend an invitation to those who have a negative opinion about me.
The doors will open at approximately 2:15. Beginning at about 20 minutes before the talk there will be a video presentation about the Restoration.
If you are interested but unable to attend, arrangements have been made to record the talk and make it available on-line later that evening.
Here is a link to a new book containing essays:
It contains eight essays, seven of which are already available on this website as a downloadable pdf. The seven essays are: The Lost Piece of Silver, Cutting Down the Tree of Life, Was There an Original, Other Sheep Indeed, Shattered Promises and Great Hope, The Holy Order, and Our Divine Parents. The eighth is a short essay titled, Problems in Restoration History.
I have received requests to move books into hardback format. This book is hardback and a test to see if there is any demand for material already available to the public, but available in a hardback option. Hardbacks are more expensive than paperbacks, and if there is an actual demand, books that are now only available in paperback form can be printed as hardbacks.
The failure of the restoration offered in Joseph Smith’s lifetime happened despite repeated warnings from the Lord. In September 1832 there was this, “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation rests upon the children of Zion, even all, and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do, according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s Kingdom. Otherwise, there remains a scourge and a judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion, for shall the children of the Kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, verily I say unto you, Nay.” (T&C 82:20)
At that point, vanity, unbelief and hypocrisy were polluting the land. The cure would have been to repent and remember the Book of Mormon as a covenant, and honor that covenant.
In February 1834, this additional warning came, “if they shall pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down, for I will not spare them if they shall pollute their inheritances.” (T&C 104:3)
In April 1834 the failures to repent included even the members of the United Firm, “Therefore, inasmuch as some of my servants have not kept the commandment, but have broken the covenant, by covetousness and with feigned words, I have cursed them with a very sore and grievous curse.” (T&C 105:1) The failure extended to the saints who had moved to “Zion” in Missouri, “The covenants being broken through transgression, by covetousness and feigned words[.]” (Id. 12)
In 1835 Joseph published the Lectures on Faith to try to elevate the saints. (T&C 110)
The objective was to help the saints understand their transgressions, abandon their covetousness and no longer pollute the land.
In January 1841 at another location, a final opportunity was given the people by the Lord, “build a house unto my name for the Most High to dwell therein. For there is not place found on the earth that he may come and restore again that which was lost unto you, of which he has taken away, even the fullness of the Priesthood. …I command you, all you my saints, to build a house unto me, and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me, …if you do not these things, at the end of the appointment, you shall be rejected as a church, with your dead.” (T&C 141:10-11) The final opportunity included this warning, “if my people will hearken unto my voice and unto the voice of my servants whom I have appointed to lead my people, behold, verily I say unto you, They shall not be moved out of their place. But if they will not hearken to my voice, nor unto the voice of these men whom I have appointed, they shall not be blessed, because they pollute my holy grounds, and my holy ordinances and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them. And it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name and do not the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfill the promises which you expect at my hands, says the Lord. For instead of blessings, you, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies and by all your abominations which you practice before me, says the Lord.” (Id. 13-14) A short time later both the men the Lord appointed (Joseph and Hyrum) and the entire community of Nauvoo, were “moved out of their place.”
Should those involved be able to detect their own covetousness? Could they see they were transgressing the ordinances? Did they know their minds were darkened because of the failure to remember the Book of Mormon? Is there a difference between “saying” and “doing” the things God commands? Is that difference easy to see?
Their history is in plain view for us to see and understand. We are supposed to learn from and avoid those past failures.
On Sunday, March 3rd, I will be giving a talk in Centerville, Utah at 3:00 pm. Everyone is invited and it will be free to the public.
Critics have offered many reasons to feel discouraged about the restoration of the gospel. Many are discouraged. But if you continue to believe God was behind the work that began with Joseph Smith, the upcoming talk will help encourage you in that belief. If you have lost hope, and would like to reclaim it, the talk will give you reason to hope again.
I hope that fundamentalists, former-Mormons, curious Christians, and active Latter-day Saints will attend. There will be something in the talk for everyone.
Brashness does not invite. But gentleness can compel. Whatever changes the heart will change the mind.
The pathway to the ideal always requires a walk through the practical. It is not a single leap to become Zion. It is a journey, filled with challenges and opportunities. Time, planning, resources, faith, labor, sacrifice, and patience along with compromises and temporary steps will be taken before we get there.
The first increments are perhaps the most important on the journey. In the parable of the 10 virgins, by the time the wedding party arrived it was too late for half the virgins to enter.
Those who stand back and await to see what will be produced rob themselves of the chance to prepare now. Then when the crisis comes, it will be too late.
Time, careful and difficult steps are required beforehand. No one lacking the preparation will be able to endure the society of those who did prepare beforehand.
However modest and simple the steps now underway may appear, they are vital. They are leading to something much greater.
We are on the pathway to the ideal, but for the present must deal with the practical. Those participating have begun the journey already.
I was asked yesterday about a definition for the term “Power in the Priesthood” and I responded:
Power in the Priesthood: Generally, having heaven acknowledge the priest’s acts as authorized, such as in baptism and blessing the sacrament. But also includes any endowment conferred directly by the Lord upon a person to accomplish an act, deliver a message, perform a mission, or labor on the Lord’s behalf with His authorization. Not every act done by men claiming authority from God is acknowledged by God, but only those acts with power in the priesthood belong to Him. Hence the Lord’s saying, many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name have cast out devils, and in your name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, You never knew me. Depart from me, you that work iniquity.
There is another, related term, Blessings of the Priesthood: This refers to the results of receiving an authorized priesthood holder’s administration to a recipient. The blessings of the priesthood endure even after the death of the priesthood holder. Although Joseph Smith died in June 1844, the blessings he conferred while here endured until early in the 20th Century.
The man was created first for a reason. He was also given dominion and governance over this world for the same reason. This was not for his sake, but to save this creation. The man needed to be accountable and responsible for everything in the creation, and for what would happen here. He had to be given rule so that he would be the accountable party for the fall. This, in turn, results in his redemption also redeeming everything under his dominion also from the fall.
For the woman to be redeemed, God put her under the purview and accountability of the man: “your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you.” (OC Gen. 2:18; see also T&C 110: Lecture 2:16) Paul was explaining this in his letter to the Corinthians: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. But I would have you know that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman, the man, and the head of Christ, God.” (NC 1 Cor 1:44) Although Paul is considered a chauvinist because of his explanation, this was the order established in the beginning by God, not by Paul. Paul wanted others to understand it.
Man cannot change the order ordained by God. Paul’s attempt to explain it does not mean Paul preferred it. He just understood it. He hoped to help others also understand it.
In accordance with the Divine ordination, the temple rites should include the covenant wherein the woman solemnly covenants and promises before God, angels, and witnesses at an altar that she will observe and keep the law of her husband and abide by his counsel in righteousness/or heed his counsel in righteousness. However worded, the covenant must track with the original order established by God for the man and woman.
The objective is unity, or for them to become one. Christ reiterated that God’s decree should be respected, not set aside by men. “Have you not read that he who made man at the beginning made him male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh.” (NC Matt. 9:19)
Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians also explained, “every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is even all one, as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman, but the woman of the man, neither was the man created for the woman, but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have a covering on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.” (1 Cor. 1:44) This obscure practice Paul refers to is grounded in something other than Paul’s bias. Covering the woman with a veil during prayer has always been part of the correct order. It is a profound and important symbol.
Because the woman’s creation was directly from the Heavenly Mother, as explained in Our Divine Parents, saving the man could not save the woman unless the woman was placed in the role God established. By placing her under his rule, it allowed her redemption. Saving all that was under the rule of the man will also include saving the woman. By God’s decree, salvation was extended to the woman through her husband’s rule. This is the reason temple covenants necessarily put the woman under the rule of her husband.
This is obviously not a license for the man to engage in misrule. To “rule” is to be responsible to teach all those in one’s dominion. A ruler is a teacher responsible for instructing others. Teaching by the ruler is required to be done without any appeal to authority, but by persuasion, meekness, and gentleness, love unfeigned and pure knowledge. (T&C 139:6)
In order to be saved, a woman must be under the dominion of her husband. Paul hoped to teach the Ephesians to follow the Divine order in love and respect. He taught, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord; for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the savior of the body. Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it even as the Lord the church; for we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife, even as himself, and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” (NC Eph. 1:20-21)
If husbands reflected the pattern of Christ’s love for His church in cherishing their wives, then submitting or hearkening to the rule of the loving husband would be a light burden. Husbands would elevate and be considerate of their wives. He would cherish her, and there would be no resentment or conflict between them.
The cure for a husband’s failure to cherish his wife is not to rebel against and destroy the order established by God. Doing so brings only condemnation. Isaiah foretold, “The Earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” (OC Isa. 7:1) There is no honor in destroying the ordinance. That defiles the whole earth, as Isaiah explained. The solution is instead for the ignorant and foolish husband to repent.
In a temple ceremony, a veil is used as a symbol to separate the initiate from the Lord. This is a symbol of the division between heaven and earth, between time and eternity, or between the sacred and the commonplace. Beyond the veil are the angels, gods and spirits (that). Here there are mortals.
Passing through that veil (that) happens in one of two ways. One way is to gain knowledge of God’s mysteries and living true and faithful to them. This is symbolized in the temple ceremony, but that actually happened in the case of the brother of Jared. “And because of the knowledge of this man, he could not be kept from beholding within the veil. And he saw the finger of Jesus, which when he saw, he fell with fear, for he knew that it was the finger of the Lord. And he had faith no longer, for he knew, nothing doubting. Wherefore, having this perfect knowledge of God, he could not be kept from within the veil. Therefore, he saw Jesus, and he did minister unto him.” (NC Ether 1:14) Temple rites explain that anyone who arrives at the veil boundary who has been true and faithful in all things is entitled to converse with the Lord through the veil. Once the Lord is satisfied they possess the required attributes, then they can enter into His presence.
The second way of passing through that veil is explained by Alma, “[B]ehold, it has been made known unto me by an angel that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home to that God who gave them life.” (NC Alma 19:6)
The ceremony employs two veils to symbolize the separation between mortality and eternity, the sacred and the profane. The boundary veil is used during the ceremony to test the initiate before permitting the individual to enter into the presence of the Lord. The second veil is used to symbolize the role of the woman.
Except for what happens in the womb of the woman, everything in mortality is subject to entropy. Women have the ordained power to produce new life. Everything else decays and dies. Her power defies the universal effects of entropy.
The ceremonial boundary veil that acts as the divider between worlds represents when the initiate is tested by heaven. This takes place before they are permitted to pass from earth to heaven, from time to eternity and from the commonplace to the sacred. In direct contrast, the veil of the woman represents the transition of pre-earth eternal spirits into mortality, when the sacred becomes embodied. She, along with God, veils in flesh the spirits from beyond the veil. “You have clothed me with skin and flesh, and have framed me with bones and sinews.” (OC Job 4:10) Therefore, the woman’s veil represents the inverse of the other veil. The boundary veil symbolizes losing the flesh to leave mortality, and her veil endows the immortal spirit with mortal flesh.
Like her heavenly counterpart, the woman represents creation. This process, like that which is beyond the boundary veil, is sacred. Both veils symbolize the sacred.
Woman is veiled to show that in a fallen world, trapped by decay and death, creation continues through her. Life springs anew and what is sacred and pure is born into mortal life. It would not be proper to remove the ceremonial veiling from the woman unless the intention was to abort the symbol of new life and creation. It destroys the symbol of the sacred power given to woman. The destroyer, of course, seeks to end life and impose misrule and death.
Of all the symbols in the temple rites, some of the most important and least understood involve the woman. The role of man is knowledge and the role of woman is wisdom. In the paper Our Divine Parents, pages 35 through 38, there is a discussion about Moses’ parable of the creation of man and woman. The woman had a direct relation to the Heavenly Mother, from whom she obtained the power to produce new life. That power resides with the Eternal Mother, and had to be endowed by Her for the mortal woman to inherit that eternal power. The creation of woman was designed to preserve, despite the fall of man, the Divine Mother’s power allowing life to continue despite the relentless pull of entropy toward dissolution, decay and the grave. This originally elevated the woman.
Like the parables Christ taught, temple rites have always used symbols to use “this” act or performance in order to reveal truths about “that” which is eternal. Temples are a great storehouse of symbolism, or one great parable used to teach truths about God. For example, under the Law of Moses, the rites of animal sacrifice required for various sins and cleansings were used to teach about the future sacrifice of a Redeemer.
The Scribes and Pharisees did not understand Christ’s parables. Those stories meant nothing to them. If it had been left to the Scribes and Pharisees, Christ’s parables would have been discarded. Imagine what Christianity would lack if we did not have the parable of the Good Samaritan, or the mustard seed, or the lost coin, or the Prodigal Son because the Scribes and Pharisees saw no reason to retain them.
When it comes to symbols (this) representing something else (that), the temple clothing given in the initiation is filled with symbolism. Depicted in the beginning of temple ceremony are six days of creation. They include six organizing labors divided into increments called “days.” Day 1: organizing together disorganized material to form a world. Day 2: dividing the water from the land. Day 3: establishing the lights in the firmament as signs. Day 4: placing plant life. Day 5: placing animal life. Day 6: putting man on earth. Despite the interruption, the seventh day was ordained to be a time of rest from labor.
There are also six articles of clothing. Article 1: robe. Article 2: slippers, Article 3: cap. Article 4: apron. Article 5: girdle. Article 6: undergarment. Each of these articles of clothing is worn by the initiate to symbolize, among other things, the creation labors, or one of the six days of creation. The slippers represent to the initiate the second day of creation. Until the dry land appeared, there was no place for man to walk.
The temple clothing symbolizes other things as well. The slippers in particular have an important second meaning; one that is more intimate than the appearance of dry land on the second day of creation. Slippers are removed and then put on again as part of the temple clothing so as to draw attention to them. Unlike the robes, which are changed from one shoulder to another to symbolize progression, nothing is done with the slippers when the robes change shoulders. Once they are donned as part of the temple regalia, they are to remain on the initiate even while other articles are moved. This is because once a soul begins to walk in the path of righteousness they are never to depart from that path.
The journey of the saved soul remains ongoing until we are in the presence of God. The slippers represent staying on the path; having remained true and faithful in all things. This in turn qualifies the individual to converse with the Lord through the veil and receive further light and knowledge. A house of God must symbolize this, as explained by Micah: “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his ways and we will walk in his paths.” (OC Micah 1:9; see also Isa. 1:6) The symbol of staying on that path is critical because that is the only way to obtain salvation: “none of these can I hope except they shall be reconciled unto Christ, and enter into the narrow gate, and walk in the straight path which leads to life, and continue in the path until the end of the day of probation.” (NC 2 Ne. 15:1) Following this path has been the message delivered by true prophets among the Jews and Nephites. “Cry unto this people, saying, Repent ye, repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight[.]” (NC Alma 5:3; see also NC Matt. 2:1)
The slippers and other articles of ceremonial clothing represent one of the days of creation, or symbolize part of the creation itself. Wearing these six symbols means the initiate represents the creation. When the initiate enters through the veil into God’s presence, that entry represents redemption of the initiate, and also symbolizes the redemption of all creation. This means that the creating process continues even if only one couple is redeemed. Through the redemption of the man and woman as one, they will continue to create worlds without end. (See NC Eph. 1:11; T&C 69:28) Christ testified, “Moreover, those who are here on this journey with me will be added upon for evermore if they have faith in me. They will rise up to likewise generate endless lives, worlds without end.” (T&C 171: Chapter 5:16)
The symbolic journey of the initiate is also the symbolic continuation of all creation. There will be other souls created, and other worlds established like the world in which we presently live. Thus the journey on that path continues worlds without end. Taking off the slippers and putting them on again as part of the temple clothing is a profound symbol of eternal truth.
Symbolism substitutes one thing to represent another. There is always “this” that stands in the place of “that.” The value of the symbol is in teaching about “that” by employing “this” as a teaching tool.
In temple symbolism, the “this” used has no real value, but “that” holds eternal value. If an unbelieving person obtains access to “this” temple symbol, but fails to understand its relationship to “that” which is eternal, they have nothing of value. Likewise, when the symbol this has no meaning for those who believe in the temple, then it fails to have any value for the believer as well.
God’s highest truths frequently use symbols. Christ used parables to teach about that by using the familiar to substitute as a representation. He explained that this was to prevent those who were unworthy of the symbol from comprehending the truths. Seeing, they “see not” and hearing they “hear not.” (See, NC Matt. 7:2; Mark 2:13.) So we understand that merely getting this without understanding that is worthless.
Temple rites are a gift from God that is filled with this for that. Ignorance leads to apostasy because the ignorant cannot see that this holds powerful value to teach about that. Even the greatest symbols can become nothing when they are not understood and are discarded by the ignorant. Then “they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. For what does it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” (T&C 86:4)
Before the temple endowment was given, God explained what He intended to accomplish through the future rites: “I say unto you that your anointings, and your washings, and your baptisms for the dead, and your solemn assemblies, and your memorials for your sacrifices by the sons of Levi, and for your oracles in your most holy places, wherein you receive conversations, and your statutes and judgments for the beginning of the revelations and foundation of Zion, and for the glory and honor, and endowment of all her municipals, are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house, which my people are always commanded to build unto my holy name.” (T&C 141:12) God intended the symbols to convey glory, honor and a gift or endowment upon the people who received them. The symbols are not the real thing, but they teach and point to the real thing that is required for salvation.
In the temple ceremony there are symbols for certain virtues that are called “keys.” These keys use hand contact and words as the symbol (this) to substitute for the actual virtues of obedience, sacrifice, chastity, gospel and consecration (that).
In the Egyptian ceremonial there was a symbolic weighing of the heart against the Ma’at feather, along with the 42 negative confessions that a person had not sinned, had not robbed with violence, had not stolen, had not uttered lies, had not committed adultery, and so on. These rites were intended to teach the person to avoid bad behaviors and acquire the seven virtues of truth, justice, balance, order, compassion, harmony, and reciprocity.
Like the ceremonies of Egypt, the restored temple rites were also intended to symbolize the acquisition of the virtues of obedience, sacrifice, chastity, gospel and consecration. The ceremony also put the initiate through a symbolic judgment in the presence of a judge who conversed with the initiate through the veil, asking for them to present the symbols (this) to demonstrate they had acquired and were in possession of the required virtues (that).
Anyone can learn of the ceremonial symbols without possessing the required virtues. But to satisfy the God-judge who meets mankind as they pass through the veil at death, the initiate must possess the actual virtues these key words and hand contacts represent. They must have the real thing.
Throughout the restored temple ceremonies the symbols are introduced sequentially, first on the right side. Therefore, interpreting the symbols focuses on understanding the significance of the right side.
To teach Christ’s gospel using symbol, part of the temple ceremony included putting a robe on the left shoulder and tying a girdle around the waist on the right hip. By putting the robe on the left shoulder, the right shoulder was left uncovered. Anciently, clothing was valuable, and most labor was manual. A bare shoulder could become calloused through work, and if scratched or cut, could heal. But a torn robe took effort and time to repair, and any injury to the garment would shorten its life. Therefore, clothing was protected from this daily labor when possible by leaving the weight-bearing shoulder uncovered. Leaving the right shoulder bare in the temple ceremony symbolized that at that stage of the initiation there was still the need to carry a burden on the right side. The work was not done.
The belly is the symbolic center of our appetites and passions. Tying the bow of the girdle on the right side symbolized the need to bind the belly, or control the appetites and passions that so often lead to sin and conflict. The bow symbolized the effort required to conquer the unruly body.
There was also a bow over the right ear for the man, the bow having three loops. Placing these over the right ear symbolized the need to hear, or hearken. The three loops above the ear symbolize first the Godhead who are above. These loops secondly also symbolize the fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob whose names are often used to identify the true God. By obeying the true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the person can accomplish the labor symbolized by the bare shoulder and bind the inappropriate appetites and unruly passions portrayed in the knotted girdle on the right hip.
When the individual achieves these required developmental improvements symbolized in this robing, then they remove all these accouterments and put them on again. Removing them was the symbol that all progress made will not be enough if you are unwilling to lay them aside, sacrifice what you have obtained from God, in order to receive more. Nothing can be gained if you are unwilling to change as often as God may require of you. Even if you mourn the loss of what you must lay aside, when God asks it of you it must be done to progress further.
As the symbolic journey continued, the robe and girdle were again donned and changed. This time the robe moved to the right shoulder and the bow is tied on the left hip. Because the symbols are interpreted from the right side, this movement shows that the hard work has been accomplished, and the robe can be safely worn upon the shoulder. The physical battle is over and the body has been controlled. They have won honor through their progression in light and truth. There is no longer a knot or tie on the right hip, but only the smooth girdle surrounding the belly because desires, appetites and passions have been defeated. Progress has been made. This is why they were part of temple worship.
I will be talking at the following venues and dates:
January 12-13: South Carolina Area Conference: Book of Mormon Covenant Conference (speaking on the 13th)
March 3: Centerville Theatre (speaking at 3 p.m.)
April 19-21: Conference: A Hope in Christ: The Temple This conference will involve some interesting sessions on Saturday that I plan to attend. I’m also hoping to meet more of you who are there.