Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

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DarkJedi
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by DarkJedi » 02 Jan 2019, 06:16

I wasn't going to comment on this thread any more because it's clear to me your mind is made up and probably was before you opened the thread.
The thing is, if the church meant for us to knowingly interpret those questions in a manner at odds with the way most members of the church and the leadership would define it, I don't think they'd bother with the interviews at all. Instead it would just be, "Do you think you're worthy? Ok then!" The fact that awful people can have recommends and many good people don't seems to support the idea that we should scrap or significantly truncate the interview process. But if we keep just giving our priesthood leadership the idea that we have a TBM testimony (which I think is what we do when we answer "yes" to everything), we do nothing to bring about the change that I think needs to take place, namely, letting worthiness be between the individual and the Lord. I actually think that a loving Father in Heaven and a loving Savior would want alcoholics and those who don't pay tithing and those who are in all other ways sinners to enter the temple more than anyone else. Those are the people who need to be in His presence most in order to help them repent and be healed. Jesus chose to spend his time with sinners over the pious. Why would he want his house to be different? If the questions were truly meant to be between the individual and the Lord, then why do we bother asking them?
(emphasis mine)

In general, I think this is where you're most off base. I have on multiple occasions had the experience where the interviewer (bishopric and stake presidency level) has said that the last question is really the most important. One even said, without my prompting although I agree, that he thought only that question could be asked. But, as Mom said, they really have no control over the questions - and that's a good thing. There's a reason why they are instructed to ask the questions exactly as written and not ask anything else.

My bishop and SP are very well aware that my belief is nuanced. They do not know all the details of what I believe, question, doubt or don't believe. I likewise don't know those details about them or anyone else in my circle of church acquaintances although I do know some things about some people. Even here, no one here knows the full depth of by beliefs, doubts, questions or unbeliefs. I think it unfair that we cast upon them (or judge them if you will) about what they believe when we don't really know what they believe or don't believe. I do happen to know that my SP disagrees with the November gay policy - but he has never said so publicly. I also believe the assumption (judgement) is that he does fully believe in and fully support that policy.

I also believe that the WoW should not be part of the interview process, and I don't believe it is a commandment at all. I agree that God probably does want sinners to repent (i.e. change or turn toward God) and I think that's a major component of why we offer the sacrament almost weekly. I do wish there were more "sinners" at church, although I recognize we're all sinners and sometimes I don't get why those who in the Latter-day Saint perspective commit more grievous sins don't come more often and/or don't feel welcome or a part of things.

Why bother asking of the questions are between God and the individual? For one thing, how else are we supposed to do it? I am not in favor, as you seem to be, of just throwing open the temple doors. While it is possible to lie, and I have known people who have done so (and you would apparently say I lie), I do believe there needs to be a standard of belief before entering the temple. I believe that much like job evaluations, it is important sometimes we are asked to evaluate ourselves and reflect on where we are, what we're doing, and where we're headed, and while that is possible with self reflection and evaluation it is unlikely to be as thorough as being asked by someone. The same is true with countless other things, including the mundane such as driver's licenses (which I think we should be examined for more often).

Your views appear to be very black and white with no room for gray or color. The world and the church are not black and white and neither are the TR questions.
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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nibbler
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by nibbler » 02 Jan 2019, 06:50

mom3 wrote:
01 Jan 2019, 15:21
This very point gets discussed again and again. The only part that is important to be aware of is that the Bishop and Stake President have no ability to change the outcome of the questions. Even if an entire ward boycotted the Temple Recommend experience.

The thing you want changed has to come from the top. The Bishop may even agree with you. He may let you have the recommend. After him, you have to do the same questions with a member of the Stake Presidency. I can't guess what they may do.
I don't know, I think top leadership makes their decisions based largely on what the bottom is or isn't doing. If home teaching percentages were always consistently high church-wide, leaders would have stuck with the status quo and kept the home teaching program around for perpetuity, but the percentages weren't high so they tried something new.

If the endowed adults with temple recommend percentage fell from about 70% to 20% across the board, the top leaders would probably react by easing off whatever requirement(s) they felt were keeping people from getting a temple recommend. I've heard rumors on the internets that the endowment is changing again, likely to reflect low temple attendance or concerns expressed by the members at the bottom.

The bottom can move the needle, not by protests from the few but through indifference by the masses.
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words, "And this too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!
― Abraham Lincoln

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nibbler
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by nibbler » 02 Jan 2019, 07:13

DarkJedi wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 06:16
...I have on multiple occasions had the experience where the interviewer (bishopric and stake presidency level) has said that the last question is really the most important. One even said, without my prompting although I agree, that he thought only that question could be asked. But, as Mom said, they really have no control over the questions - and that's a good thing. There's a reason why they are instructed to ask the questions exactly as written and not ask anything else.
I've had that experience as well, but the question is last. Meaning one has to pass all the other questions before getting to the most important one. I haven't had experience in this department so I don't know what would happen if someone expressed doubts to one of the belief questions or admitted to slipping up on one of the obedience questions but then tried to jump to the last question to smooth the fault over, "But I still consider myself worthy to enter the temple. Go ahead, ask me that question. Ask me that question!"

That's beside the point though. I've got to think that most people that believe they wouldn't pass the TR interview don't even bother signing up for one.
DarkJedi wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 06:16
Why bother asking of the questions are between God and the individual? For one thing, how else are we supposed to do it? I am not in favor, as you seem to be, of just throwing open the temple doors.
Likely the subject of a different thread, but why not? My opinion is very tied to my experiences while orthodox; maybe most people can exist in an environment where "worthiness" is stressed and measured and it helps steer people positively in a better direction. Like people that wouldn't give their standing before god a second thought if not for constant reminders. It didn't work for me that way at all, I developed scrupulosity in that environment, I felt like I was a horrible person no matter what I was or wasn't doing. I've moved past that, but I'm now sensitive to how our focus on obedience can tear some people down.

The WoW is a lowest common denominator rule. Total abstinence because some people can't do moderation. I'm not saying "anything goes" but I wonder how church culture, aspects that go right down to the atomic level, could change to accommodate people that have the tendency to never feel worthy before god, despite being good. There are far too many messages focused on works and obedience at church. So much so that I hear the pain veiled in what people say at church. Pain that could be mitigated.

This is perhaps the hardest remaining issue for me to tackle as it relates to the church. How we make calls pertaining to someone's worthiness, one way or the other, and all the measuring we do. The temple and temple worthiness are often at the center of it.
It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words, "And this too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!
― Abraham Lincoln

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dande48
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by dande48 » 02 Jan 2019, 10:01

nibbler wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 07:13
DarkJedi wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 06:16
Why bother asking of the questions are between God and the individual? For one thing, how else are we supposed to do it? I am not in favor, as you seem to be, of just throwing open the temple doors.
Likely the subject of a different thread, but why not?
Probably because the temple experience is, for lack of a better word, pretty "bizzare". You wear unusual clothes, watch an unusual play, make signs, and repeat things in unison. Thank goodness we've toned it down (No more oath of vengeance against the United States, no more gory punishments, no more anti-catholic rhetoric, etc). But the whole process does NOT hold up well to public scrutiny. If it were open to the public, people would make fun of it. Then, they would criticize it for being cultish. In fairness, they already do, but it could be MUCH worse. But if it was open up to most any member, it would come under scrutiny. There would be much more exposure, and I think it would scare off most young/new/potential members. Heck, I think the reason we have youth and new converts do baptisms for the dead is partly to convince them "Hey, look how NORMAL the temple is! Can't you feel the Spirit?!".

There are also some pretty serious promises made, which would also scare off new members and cause further scrutiny. The Church does not do well with such scrutiny.

The purpose of the temple is largely, I feel, to increase the faith and commitment of the membership. It can only "work its magic" if the faith and commitment of the membership is already at a particular level. Heck, many of us with nuanced views profess our simple "yes/no" testimonies to get a TR. Doesn't that increase our faith and commitment? Many of us want a TR so we can be with our family at certain milestones. Doesn't that increase our commitment? Humans like to be consistent. Going through the TR process preps us (in ways I don't particularly like).
Consistency Principle: The strong psychological need to be consistent with prior acts and statements.
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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by mom3 » 02 Jan 2019, 11:03

The bottom can move the needle, not by protests from the few but through indifference by the masses.
You are correct on that. History has proven it. I should have clarified that it would take a huge 70% drop for a change to occur. A handful of non-recommend holders won't budge it.
"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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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Heber13 » 02 Jan 2019, 12:51

squarepeg wrote:
01 Jan 2019, 00:26
Thank you, Heber. I actually tell my kids the truth about Santa really young.
I think you still got my point I was making. Thanks for your response. Not telling them when they are really young is still lying to them, right? There is just a point you want them to know the truth for certain reasons at a certain age rather than younger ages for reasons you have for not telling them when younger. That's great. There is a point a decision is made to handle it a certain way. You sound thoughtful and deliberate about it, and I respect that. Same approach goes with the TR interview...you go with what feels right to you.

I think this is fine, even if it differently from others. It is good to discuss as a group and see the different approaches as we share together our thoughts. The last point I would make is that while you choose to parent your way for your reasons and live with the consequences (not intending to imply negative consequences...simply how your kids react and following consequences good bad or indifferent)...it highlights the point that there is not one way to do this. With parenting or with TR interviews. There are multiple approaches and you go with what feels right to you and your heart and your spirituality. And you don't go around ruining the santa clause for other families nor judging others (not that you did in any way...I'm just making the point) that approach the TR interviews very generally and not black and white, my answers mean something to me. My experience to hold a recommend or not is my experience.

There are lots of options for us on these matters. We don't need to make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be. We don't want to compromise integrity. In the grand scheme of things, I don't find it matters too much which approach we take...as long as we choose and then go do good things. I don't find God seems to care much, or at least He hasn't told me otherwise.

Sounds like you've worked through what you want to do. Let us know how it goes and how it works for you. Thanks for this interesting thread and reviewing these things.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "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."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Heber13 » 02 Jan 2019, 12:56

DarkJedi wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 06:16
I also believe that the WoW should not be part of the interview process, and I don't believe it is a commandment at all.
If you don't believe pure abstinence on coffee and tea is the Lord's commandment for the word of wisdom, can you say you live the word if wisdom (your way, how you define it) even if you are drinking tea? Even if the person asking has a different definition of WoW? What if their definition includes soda? Is that example any different from tea?
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "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."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by dande48 » 02 Jan 2019, 13:34

Heber13 wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 12:56
DarkJedi wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 06:16
I also believe that the WoW should not be part of the interview process, and I don't believe it is a commandment at all.
If you don't believe pure abstinence on coffee and tea is the Lord's commandment for the word of wisdom, can you say you live the word if wisdom (your way, how you define it) even if you are drinking tea? Even if the person asking has a different definition of WoW? What if their definition includes soda? Is that example any different from tea?
Couldn't all TR questions follow the same logic? Making it impossible to lie? I can't think of one question that is not directly passable in any situation, with a little logical dancing.

Does an adulterer keep the "law of chastity?" Well, they aren't committing adultery during the TR interview. Maybe they've taken the sacrament since their last affair. Maybe they've prayed about it, and were told they were really supposed to be with this other person. Maybe they made secret marital vows with each other? Maybe they're taking a more liberal view of the law of chastity? Maybe all "chastity" means is being respectful to women.

Is an embezzler honest in your dealings with their fellowman? Well, they never promised not to steal. They're only taking their fair share.

Or maybe God doesn't want any of those questions in the TR interview, but wants you to attend the temple anyways.

Reminds me of first episode of Community:
Jeff Winger wrote:"I discovered at a very early age that if I talk long enough, I can make anything right or wrong. So either I'm God or truth is relative. And in either case, booyah!"
Can anyone think of any situation where the TR interview could not be "honestly" passed with a little creative interpretation? I can't think of one.
"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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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Roy » 02 Jan 2019, 17:50

Dande, I probably am feeling stronger about this than necessary. I think that I feel that your argument calls my integrity into question and I am having a bit of reaction to that. (Somewhat ironic considering I have not had a TR in almost 10 years - so you couldn't possibly be speaking to me directly) Knowing that this is likely not your intent I will try to keep that defensive reaction from my post.
Heber13 wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 12:51
And you don't go around ruining the santa clause for other families nor judging others (not that you did in any way...I'm just making the point) that approach the TR interviews very generally and not black and white, my answers mean something to me. My experience to hold a recommend or not is my experience.
This pretty well sums it up for me. I know for a fact that my former bishop (recently released) defined tithing as gross. I assume that there might be at least one ward member that defined tithing differently and received a TR with a clear consience. This is but a simple exampe of how the TR interview questions can be interpreted differently by the interviewer and interviewee and have it be ok.

Church officials have at times made statments to the effect that use of nuance and personal interpretation is not ok. They like things to be much more cut and dry. Church officials have also made statements to the effect that the church is either all true or is harmful counterfeit. This would make it seem that the only option for a person of integrity to take would be firmly for or firmly against with no middle ground. I respectfully disagree. This middle ground of nuance and personal interpretation is the ground that I stand on. It is my path of faith and I travel it as best as I am able.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

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Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by mom3 » 02 Jan 2019, 21:14

Couldn't all TR questions follow the same logic? Making it impossible to lie? I can't think of one question that is not directly passable in any situation, with a little logical dancing.

Does an adulterer keep the "law of chastity?" Well, they aren't committing adultery during the TR interview. Maybe they've taken the sacrament since their last affair. Maybe they've prayed about it, and were told they were really supposed to be with this other person. Maybe they made secret marital vows with each other? Maybe they're taking a more liberal view of the law of chastity? Maybe all "chastity" means is being respectful to women.
I am not talking about logical dancing. When I referenced people who I find abhorrent who get recommends, I was stating that each of us really is our own judge. I know people who I think are totally unChristlike, selfish, mean, and do a lot of emotional damage to others, but they still get a recommend because the questions don't cover that. And those people that I see in that light, don't see themselves in that light. They think they are being better than everyone. I know women who have been so humiliated by a Priesthood Leader, that they won't attend when he is there. In his mind he is fine. He isn't lying, he is answering as he see's fit.

I am not asking anyone to lie. I am stating that if the reason someone wants a recommend is to be with family or to have a quiet, calm place to go - then answer the questions with a simple yes or no to get the piece of paper and go enjoy the experience.

With all the church changes, I am hoping the questions themselves get changed or diminished. I wish they were more Christ centered or spiritually centered. But the OP stated wanting to be with family. Answering the required "yes" or "no" is the best way to get that.
"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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