Temple Covenants Questions

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Willhewonder
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Temple Covenants Questions

Post by Willhewonder » 08 Aug 2016, 19:25

I've been perusing a lot of the threads about the covenants in the temple, and have been very interested to see the perspectives on what we committed to and what the circumstances of our commitment were. Personally, my own endowment was a traumatic event that I was not prepared for. Nevertheless, I persevered with the endowment. I still believe that I should have done so.

One of the things I noted was that the language on the Law of Chastity changed in 1990. I have no personal issues with the current or pre-1990 temple language, but as I am word-formal, I want to ask a question I have not seen addressed thus far. Since I covenanted to live the Law of Chastity under pre-1990 language, is it proper to hold me to the new language? On an eternal or temple recommend renewal basis?

Also, I've noticed several comments about the surprise and highly coercive atmosphere of having to commit to the laws in a very pressured environment that would be difficult to back out of without embarrassment and humiliation. How valid are covenants made under those circumstances? One thing that I have come to appreciate about God's Law, is that the first and foremost element seems to be choice. How does all this reconcile?

Your thoughts would be most appreciated.

GBSmith
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by GBSmith » 08 Aug 2016, 20:21

Willhewonder wrote:
One of the things I noted was that the language on the Law of Chastity changed in 1990. I have no personal issues with the current or pre-1990 temple language, but as I am word-formal, I want to ask a question I have not seen addressed thus far. Since I covenanted to live the Law of Chastity under pre-1990 language, is it proper to hold me to the new language? On an eternal or temple recommend renewal basis?

Also, I've noticed several comments about the surprise and highly coercive atmosphere of having to commit to the laws in a very pressured environment that would be difficult to back out of without embarrassment and humiliation. How valid are covenants made under those circumstances? One thing that I have come to appreciate about God's Law, is that the first and foremost element seems to be choice. How does all this reconcile?

Your thoughts would be most appreciated.
The language was changed to keep people from saying "but what I did wasn't intercourse". My experience over the years has been positive, not coercive as regards the interview or the endowment. The covenants, to me, are things I'd agree to if I wanted to be a committed member. Plus the ones you agreed to the first time are for you and ever since for the person you're going through the temple for.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Aug 2016, 20:47

Covenants are whatever we make of them, just like ordinances, jobs, marriages, friendships, and every other part of life.

Frankly, I highly doubt God is going to use different time-dependent wording to reward or punish his children. I think there is one standard upon which all the law and the prophets (which would include temple covenants) hang:

Love of God, self, and everyone else.

Sometimes, we can obsess over the details so much that we miss the over-arching / under-pinning message.
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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DarkJedi
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Aug 2016, 21:01

I don't want this to sound like any more or less than what it is, and I hope it doesn't sound dismissive. I find the covenants all to be symbolic, and while I understand some people put a lot of weight on the exact wording of things (and I am guilty of this myself in some circumstances) I'm not sure that's what we're supposed to do in the temple. At my baptism I symbolically agreed to follow Christ and I was symbolically buried and born again. Exactly how I interpret following Christ is up to me and is between me and God. I can't physically follow Him, nor do I desire to. I can't do the good that He did. I can pledge to try to do good though, knowing I will fail to be as good as He was/is.

So chastity pre or post 90s? It doesn't matter what words were used, I have my understanding of what it means and I do what I think I am supposed to do. Chastity is in some ways one of the easier of the covenants because in truth none of us live the law of sacrifice and because of human frailty none of us will. Are we therefore all condemned to outer darkness because we don't keep that covenant? Are we all therefore under Satan's power? (Some would argue that yes we are). I think not, because what we are really pledging is to believe and to try, we are not pledging perfection.

In the temple I commit to try to do better, knowing I won't always do better. God knows that too, and that's why there is an atonement and mercy and grace.

(And, as Ray was typing at the same time, what he said.)
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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Curt Sunshine
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by Curt Sunshine » 08 Aug 2016, 21:09

I have mentioned this in another thread, but I love the framing of our covenants as "token efforts" - that they are a token/sign of our willingness to try to do our best, even though we know we won't live them fully. In other words, we make promises we know we can't keep, specifically because we believe God doesn't require perfect performance but will accept our best effort.

As I have said in multiple situations, once we start the endowment we always finish it if we simply don't leave - no matter how well we remember the things we are supposed to say or do. There always is someone to help us, every step throughout the process - so we always end up being admitted into the presence of the Lord. I see it all symbolically, and I love that I CANNOT fail that symbolic journey if I simply show up.

I think we tend naturally to complicate things, and this is a great example. Do your own, personal best, whatever that is. God will accept that and make up the difference. That is the heart of the concept of an atonement, imo.
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

Ann
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by Ann » 08 Aug 2016, 23:56

Willhewonder wrote:Also, I've noticed several comments about the surprise and highly coercive atmosphere of having to commit to the laws in a very pressured environment that would be difficult to back out of without embarrassment and humiliation. How valid are covenants made under those circumstances? One thing that I have come to appreciate about God's Law, is that the first and foremost element seems to be choice. How does all this reconcile?
I don't feel obligated just having ended up in the temple, completely unprepared, completely ignorant of the ceremony's origins and history (all my fault) one winter day in the mid-80's. If the question is whether I could ever be unfaithful to my spouse, or ungrateful for much of my life in the church, or dismiss out of hand what the temple might be able to teach me, the answer is no. But, at least at this moment, I don't feel bound by the ceremony itself, just connected to the people and ideas and experience. I like to think that's the connection God desires for me, not the legalistic one.
"Preachers err by trying to talk people into belief; better they reveal the radiance of their own discovery." - Joseph Campbell

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." - Marcel Proust

"Therefore they said unto him, How were thine eyes opened? He answered and said unto them, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes...." - John 9:10-11

nibbler
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by nibbler » 09 Aug 2016, 05:14

A while back there was a discussion on evolving language used for covenants made in the temple. I forgot which direction the thread went, but here's a link: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=7504

About the covenants themselves. I've heard some people argue that we don't actually make any covenants at all in the temple. Whether we do or not isn't my point, I just wanted to point out that there's a wide range of how people view the same thing.

How I interpret the covenants I made in the temple has changed over the last few decades. This evolution has occurred even in the absence of a change to the actual wording. Would it be more proper to hold myself to my original interpretations of the covenants I made or to my current interpretation of the covenants I made?

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Willhewonder
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by Willhewonder » 09 Aug 2016, 11:33

Nibbler, thanks for the thread. Joni nailed the essence of my comment, though regarding a different part of the endowment, and she made some very good points I hadn't considered about who should be held accountable for what wording, and whether some temple work needed to be redone! I do have to say, however, that I have trouble with covenants and contracts with unclear or non-critical language. How can you have a serious agreement if the terms are all over the map? Part of my problem is my inherent nature. I like word choice, logic and even symbolic logic. Also, I have been conditioned by some training and experience in my career. For awhile, I was in procurement and was in charge of writing contracts for my company site. So I watch word choice pretty carefully.

Along those lines, I have viewed with interest the several threads and comments I have seen on parsing words. I think it is an instructive activity.

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Heber13
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by Heber13 » 09 Aug 2016, 11:59

Good discussion. And good questions.

I think of outward ordinances, including temple stuff, as our way to try to work on our inward journey to progress towards God.

I can see some value in defining things with specific language, to help us gain understanding and meaning, and as we do that it clarifies things in our own minds. The way I viewed the temple and the ordinances at age 19 compared to how I view them now is as different as how I viewed my covenants at age 8 at baptism compared to how I see those covenants now. And so, each time I take the sacrament, I have opportunities to reflect and update the meaning of those covenants. Each time I go to the temple to do proxy work for others, I get that same chance...updates.

Just as the temple words may change over time, more importantly, the meaning within is changing.

So...in that way...what Ray and DJ said rings true...the actual words and symbols don't need to be more complicated by literal things.

On the other hand...it is not worthless to have temple wording fixed to teach us things. The way they are worded does matter to me. Like scriptures, there are multiple interpretations, but they are worded for specific reasons (mostly). How we process it is important to us. What it teaches us about chastity is important. Why they change it is important. We should seek integrity and honesty with our spirits on how we apply them to our lives.

But...it may be something very different for me than for you. I am comfortable with my temple covenants and where my heart is while I keep trying to make promises and hope for God's promises back to me. I try not to rationalize and lessen them. But sometimes I broaden them and look for meaning and peace.

By the way...I also view them as unnecessary. People can get to God with or without them. I find value in bringing them into my journey. Chastity is important.
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."

AmyJ
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Re: Temple Covenants Questions

Post by AmyJ » 06 Oct 2017, 11:59

As I have said in multiple situations, once we start the endowment we always finish it if we simply don't leave - no matter how well we remember the things we are supposed to say or do. There always is someone to help us, every step throughout the process - so we always end up being admitted into the presence of the Lord. I see it all symbolically, and I love that I CANNOT fail that symbolic journey if I simply show up.
<speaks from experience>
Yes - but you can't go through the veil on behalf of an individual if you lose the paper in the endowment room. As the last female to go through, you get to be escorted by the temple worker (who also can't find the paper) around the veil experience into the Celestial Room (if you choose to).

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