Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

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mom3
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by mom3 » 29 Dec 2018, 16:25

I'm going to ask my bishop whether he thinks my hope of things being true, and my willingness to live as if they were true, counts as testimony...and risk him denying me the recommend.
I don't know your Bishop. He may be chill with this. He may not. Realize, depending on how you present your lack of belief/testimony, you could put all those other things that you desire in jeopardy. Those alone are good reasons to have a recommend. Especially attending family events like baptisms and sealings.

No one is asking you to lie. As Heber pointed out, if you have no desire to tear down the church or secretly record the temple stuff, then you are as valid as anyone to attend it. Even if you only attend to support family.

I know super jerk leaders and people who have recommends. I wonder what their testimonies are anchored in all the time. Cause they seem miles away from Christ and Godliness as I can find, but because they don't drink coffee, and they pay tithing - they get in.

Important to remember that the questions are supposed to be between you and the Lord. I believe we still read that to each interviewee at the beginning. The Bishop or Stake President is just a guy. As you imagine your life with Jesus or God, do you think they would be okay with you going to the temple?
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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dande48
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by dande48 » 29 Dec 2018, 21:24

Bishops are called to be a "Judge in Israel". Their main purpose in the Temple Recommend Interview is to judge us worthy or unworthy to enter. I think one thing we can all agree on: Worthiness interviews suck. They need an overhaul (maybe reducing them to the last question, if any).

Two options being proposed here, as I see it: Pass the interview by any means necessary. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think according to what many of you have posted, TR interviews should be impossible to fail. If you want it, you're worthy. If you don't want it, why go for the interview? The other option is not to play into the current system.

My thoughts on it: Refraining from participation is not the same as acting against it. I think often it is the only course of action available to us. If we protest, make a scene, etc, we'll get exed. If we participate, everything will carry along, with positive statistics in the Church's record book. There will be no change. But when people maintain partial participation, "I'm doing this, but I won't do that", that's when we can raise some real red flags, without painting a target on our back. The inactives are ignored, the apostates are exed, but the semi-active will always be made into a project, for better or worse.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

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DarkJedi
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by DarkJedi » 30 Dec 2018, 05:51

dande48 wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 21:24
Bishops are called to be a "Judge in Israel". Their main purpose in the Temple Recommend Interview is to judge us worthy or unworthy to enter. I think one thing we can all agree on: Worthiness interviews suck. They need an overhaul (maybe reducing them to the last question, if any).
I just want to point out that not all members nor all bishops see the judge in Israel thing as applicable in the TR interview. My view of the TR interview, even in my very TBM days, was that it was more of a reflective self evaluation. One of the things I said to my SP when he initially interviewed me for the HC when I started coming back to church was that I felt worthy of a TR at that point and the only question I could not answer positively was church attendance. He later told me that was the tipping point for him, that he wasn't sure until then. If you read my intro. (linked in my signature written a few months before this SP interview), and look at things I say now my views have not really changed much. I still believe in the Deist kind of God, I don't pay tithing on gross, I don't pray (which is not a question on the TR), etc. Related side note: when I was a counselor in the bishopric and did TR interviews I also didn't consider myself a judge in Israel because counselors don't hold those keys - that is true across the board, bishop's counselors are not judges in Israel.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 Dec 2018, 08:42

Nobody here has said it is okay to pass the recommend interview by any means necessary. Nobody has said it is okay to lie, for example. I think it is important not to lie.

What we have said is that the questions are "Yes" or "No" questions, and most of them simply ask if you "have a testimony" of something, which is a VERY ambiguous, amorphous phrase. It literally can mean any one of MANY things. We are saying you don't have to wear an orthodox straight-jacket with regard to how you interpret them. Even the "performance" questions have room not to be answered at the extremes. When I am asked if I am honest in my dealings with others, I usually answer, "I try to be." When I am asked about my conduct toward my family members, I usually answer, "Not to any level that I believe should keep me from being able to attend the temple." If I am being lazy, I just say "Yes" and "No," respectively.

Autobiographical narratives are not required. Shorthand is okay. Different interpretations are fine. Lying is not. Nefarious intentions are not. This isn't black and white to me; it is multi-colored.

You don't have to play the piccolo, in Elder Wirthlin's words - or whatever instrument your Bishop and/or Stake President plays. Even a kazoo or an elementary school recorder is fine.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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dande48
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by dande48 » 30 Dec 2018, 09:01

Curt Sunshine wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 08:42
Nobody here has said it is okay to pass the recommend interview by any means necessary. Nobody has said it is okay to lie, for example. I think it is important not to lie.
Yes, but what I'm pulling from what you've said, is it is more or less impossible to lie, because the wording is "ambiguous". Although, personally, I don't think it is or was intended to be; I think you're interpreting it ambiguously. It's pulling the Obi-Wan "Well, what I told you was true, from a certain point of view". And I wasn't talking about people with nefarious intentions. Folks either don't believe their intentions are nefarious, or would lie anyways.

Curious, though. What do you think is the purpose of these required TR worthiness interviews?
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
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Minyan Man
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Minyan Man » 30 Dec 2018, 09:25

I review the night before what I'm going to say. If I think I won't pass the interview, I won't go.

My answers are always yes or no, period. Our SP never goes beyond my answer. In addition, they have 10 minutes max to do the interview.
Or, the line backs up & he is late.

I never lie.

If there is any extra that I add to the interview, it is in the beginning when he asks: how are you? My answer is always general.
It is usually about my calling in Family History / Temple work.

I don't expect solutions to my spiritual questions (or problems) during this time. IMO this is not the place for my questions.

My only suggestion is: do not make the process more complicated than it is. We have a tendency (as members) to make the
gospel, doctrine & church policy complicated. And relax. When you go to the temple: take what you can use & leave the rest.

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DarkJedi
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by DarkJedi » 30 Dec 2018, 12:14

dande48 wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 09:01
Curt Sunshine wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 08:42
Nobody here has said it is okay to pass the recommend interview by any means necessary. Nobody has said it is okay to lie, for example. I think it is important not to lie.
Yes, but what I'm pulling from what you've said, is it is more or less impossible to lie, because the wording is "ambiguous". Although, personally, I don't think it is or was intended to be; I think you're interpreting it ambiguously. It's pulling the Obi-Wan "Well, what I told you was true, from a certain point of view". And I wasn't talking about people with nefarious intentions. Folks either don't believe their intentions are nefarious, or would lie anyways.

Curious, though. What do you think is the purpose of these required TR worthiness interviews?
I don't think that's what Curt (or I) is saying at all. It is possible to lie, and Obi Wan was correct - what he said was true from a certain point of view. I don't lie, nor do I feel I am being deceitful in any way when I answer the questions. Like MM, I answer yes and no, period. Example:

1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost? My answer: Yes. (My mind's voice is saying yes, I have a belief in something I cannot see, touch of feel with the possible exception of the HG. I do believe there is a God the Father, a Messiah/Savior - Jesus Christ - and I do believe in the Holy Ghost. The question is not do I believe in God in exactly the same way you do.)

2. Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer? My answer: Yes. (My mind's voice reminds me I do have a testimony of the hope that the Savior brought and in some inexplicable way I do believe there was an atonement for my sins and I can be forgiven of them for that is the beauty of the gospel and IS the gospel.)

3. Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days? My answer: Yes. (I believe Joseph Smith had a profound spiritual experience and that the church he organized was to the best of his ability that which he understood existed in early Christianity.)

4. Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church? My answer: Yes. (Pres. Nelson reached that position fair and square according to our tradition. He is the rightful leader of the church, thus possessing whatever authority ("keys") that go with that position. Likewise the other 14 and my local leaders. By the way, what does sustain really mean? Oh, wait, I already answered the question. But if it was that I support them and will help them as I am able, then yes.)

5. Do you live the law of chastity? My answer: Yes. (I don't screw around and never have. I don't think the question is do I find myself unable to look away from another particularly attractive human, because if it is then none of us live the LoC. The question is also not "What is your understanding of the LoC?")

Etc.

I believe the wording is purposely ambiguous because by wording them as they are worded (and I believe much thought and discussion has gone into the process, they weren't written by somebody's clerk) makes it possible for as many as can go to the temple can go. The biggest stumbling block for people is the erroneous idea they have to answer the questions in the way they think the leader wants them to answer the question. I answer in the way I think God would have me answer because it is really between he and I - even if I were to lie (and I have known people to lie).
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 30 Dec 2018, 22:34

I have never said or implied it is impossible to lie. I never will - and I said, explicitly, that it is important to me not to lie. I will not answer "Yes" if my honest answer is "No". I won't suggest anyone else lie. Period.

For example, if someone does not pay 10% of their income or increase to the LDS Church or another organization that they believe does the work of God, I will not tell them they can answer the tithing question honestly by saying "Yes" - and I will not encourage them to lie. That is why I said what I said about that question. I didn't say, "It is impossible to lie, so get the recommend at any cost, no matter what." I said, essentially, "If you give 10% of your income or increase (if you tithe), you can answer that question honestly." I didn't think I needed to state the opposite, since I tried to be explicit about the restriction I just described. If that wasn't clear, I hope it is now.

Don't lie in the temple recommend interview - but don't assume you have to understand any question the same way the person interviewing you does.

I am saying most of the questions are so intentionally ambiguous (or undefined) that they can't be answered only by one universal interpretation. I can say "Yes", and someone else can say "Yes", and both of us can be completely honest - but we would explain that answer differently if we chose to do so. On the other hand, if the only honest answer is the "wrong" answer to get a recommend, don't go to the interview. The honest thing in that situation is not to get a recommend.

As far as the purpose of the interview goes, I think it is to try to make sure the person being interviewed is sincere about wanting to go and also "worthy" to go - but I also don't have to define "worthy" any more stringently than "is able to give the correct "Yes" and "No" answers honestly".
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by SamBee » 31 Dec 2018, 04:18

dande48 wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 09:01
Curt Sunshine wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 08:42
Nobody here has said it is okay to pass the recommend interview by any means necessary. Nobody has said it is okay to lie, for example. I think it is important not to lie.
Yes, but what I'm pulling from what you've said, is it is more or less impossible to lie, because the wording is "ambiguous". Although, personally, I don't think it is or was intended to be; I think you're interpreting it ambiguously. It's pulling the Obi-Wan "Well, what I told you was true, from a certain point of view". And I wasn't talking about people with nefarious intentions. Folks either don't believe their intentions are nefarious, or would lie anyways.

Curious, though. What do you think is the purpose of these required TR worthiness interviews?
Obi Wan was correct. Luke's father had died and turned into something else. This is the problem with real life history - so many variations. An American will tell you Pearl Harbor happened in 1941, which is verifiable but when did WWII start? That's more debatable. Many people would say 1939 when Hitler and Stalin invaded Poland, but neither the USSR nor USA considered that part of the war. How about earlier? The Japanese-Soviet skirmishes before then? Or the German takeover of parts of Czechoslovakia? Or the Japanese invasion of China before that? Some people would argue WWII was just an extension of WWI or that the Balkans were effectively at war long before WWI...

Anyway, I digress.

The purpose? Again, it depends on your interpretation. A TBM might say it's a friendly checking in, a spiritual medical check up. An exmo might say it's a form of hostile control.

Here are a few other possibilities, depending on your POV:
* Maintaining communication between the hierarchy and the membership.
* A kind of counseling.
* An audit.
* A course correction.
* A reaffirmation.
* A form of discipline.
* The shepherd tending to his flock.
* A corporation checking up on its rank n file workers.
* Interfering.
* The love of Christ made manifest by his deputies on Earth.
* A meaningless conversation.
* A social convention.
* The correct use of priesthood authority.
* A tradition.
* A ritual.
* Brainwashing.
* Community care.
* A means to keep tithing going.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by nibbler » 31 Dec 2018, 07:43

I feel like we need an Obi Wan thread. ;)

"Darth Vader betrayed and murdered your father."

Writers later come up with the idea that Darth Vader is Luke's father. Oh no, earlier we said that Darth Vader killed Luke's father. Think, think, think, and out pops:

"Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true, from a certain point of view."

I've got to think that close to 100 times out of 100 someone saying, "Person A betrayed and murdered your father." will make the other person believe that two distinct individuals are being discussed. It's a dodge to explain an earlier, incongruent line of dialog in the story after the story had evolved... but that doesn't mean we can't find meaning in it. In a way it emulates life.

To really butcher it,

"You're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view. Especially when your point of view is based entirely on what I told you, which was deliberately misleading language to throw you off the scent because I didn't feel like you were ready to handle a less filtered version of events." :angel:
If one dream dies, dream another dream. If you get knocked down, get back up and go again.
― Joel Osteen

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