Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Public forum for those seeking support for their experience in the LDS Church.
Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16575
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 02 Jan 2019, 21:21

Of course, someone could nuance a response past the breaking point and lie to get a recommend. That is obvious. However, it isn't what I have said, when my comments are viewed in totality.

When it comes to lying to receive a recommend, I used tithing as an example of a limit to nuance. Chastity is another obvious limit. Adulterers can't nuance away their adultery and claim to be keeping the Law of Chastity with ay degree of honesty. Someone can't be beating their kids and raping their spouse and answer another question honestly. Someone can't be a polygamist and answer another question honestly. Every question has a practical limit beyond which the required answer becomes a lie, no matter who gives that answer.

However, a WHOLE LOT of people see things between the extremes and can give the required answers honestly to every question from numerous points between the extremes.
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

squarepeg
Posts: 120
Joined: 17 Feb 2017, 12:51

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by squarepeg » 02 Jan 2019, 21:34

dande48 wrote:
01 Jan 2019, 10:43
I feel this sort of deception, these devilish half-truths and "technicalities", makes me trust them even less than if they had straight up lied to me.
Ditto.

Roy wrote:
01 Jan 2019, 10:49
There is no single motive or right way to StayLDS. We each have managed some nominal success in navigating this "middle way". By sharing our stories we gain perspective and validation but not everyone else's approach to staying LDS will fit quite right for us. Ultimately we make the adjustments and decisions that we think necessary and carry on as best we can. May God bless each of us in the endeavor.
Thank you, Roy. I fully respect the way in which you choose to "stay LDS" and agree that it is not a black and white issue. We are all doing our best, I fully believe that.

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.
Isn't it true that in US and World politics as well as in LDS and other church politics, a lot of changes happen at the top because of grassroots efforts that started at the bottom? I disagree that the Bishop and Stake President have no power. Of course they do. There's a chain of leadership that goes all the way to Salt Lake. If issues work their way up lots and lots of those chains of leadership all over the world, Salt Lake is bound to do something. I'd be shocked if the temple endowment ceremony changes announced today were due solely to a revelation given to the leadership in Salt Lake. That all started because of people voicing concerns about the temple ceremony the way it was before.

Curt Sunshine wrote:
01 Jan 2019, 16:22
Eliminating all but one specific meaning of a complex word is immodest (extreme), so what I am saying is that it is okay to be modest in how you view a testimony.

How is that for a Mormon answer? :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
I love it!!! :clap: Though I still feel I ought to try to develop a shared understanding of what each interview question means, between myself and the leader conducting the interview. In my day-to-day spiritual life, I absolutely hold to a very modest (and liberal! lol) definition of testimony.

DarkJedi wrote:
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.
No way, man. My thoughts about this were a muddle and I was flip flopping like a politician until you guys helped me figure out how I felt about this.
DarkJedi wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 06:16
I am not in favor, as you seem to be, of just throwing open the temple doors.
We just disagree here. I hope that's okay. Buddhist, Daoist, and Hindu temples have their doors wide open, and they don't seem to lose sacredness because of that. We can still emphasize temple worthiness in a general sense in church, etc., just to encourage people to be spiritually prepared before entering. Honestly, I don't think too many people who are unworthy to enter the temple are going to have much interest in it. I mean, if your head and heart aren't in the right place, the temple stuff is just going to be weird and/or boring and you'll not get much out of it. It's even weird/boring sometimes when we've done everything to be worthy, in my experience! (I emphasize "sometimes" because I've had many beautiful, profound experiences and feelings in the temple.)

I think I view this issue of how to answer TR interview questions kind of like "draft dodgers" in the US during the Vietnam War. It kinda seems like they should sacrifice their lives and put their families at risk for a bunch of South Vietnamese people whom they've never met, because Democracy and Freedom and all that, and yet, can anyone blame them for not being willing to do it? I can't. If I'd been in that situation, I would've been one of them. Should people be totally 100% black-and-white honest in answering the really rather oddly specific temple recommend interview questions regardless of whether that means it could harm their family relationships etc.? It kinda seems like they should, and yet, can I blame anyone who doesn't? Absolutely not. There are good and bad results regardless.

nibbler wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 06:50

I don't know, I think top leadership makes their decisions based largely on what the bottom is or isn't doing.
:thumbup:
nibbler wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 07:13
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.
Yaaaassssssss!!!! I went inactive for several years largely because I just couldn't DO ALL THE THINGS, anymore, due to illness, and I was just a huge ball of guilt anytime I thought about church much less entered the building! I felt like a piece of trash. Can a loving Heavenly Father really judge people based on whether they DID ALL THE THINGS? I don't think so. But that's how it feels when we talk so much about these behavioral variables being essential criteria for exaltation.

Heber13 wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 12:51
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.
Thanks, Heber. I sure didn't mean to sound like I think others are handling TR interviews wrong if they don't see it the way I do. (For the record, I told my older kids about Santa from the time they were able to comprehend enough English to understand the explanation. With my youngest, I've developed a more nuanced thought process about the Santa issue, and realized that if I tell her as young as she is currently (barely turned 3), that I have no way of helping her understand that she should NOT spoil the myth for her peers, so I've got to wait until she understands, "Don't tell your friends, because their families might want them to believe in Santa for a while longer." As with TR interviews, we have to choose whose needs/feelings to take into consideration and how to weigh those needs/feelings, within our families, outside our families. Pretty tricky. I care more about other families, now, than I used to, evidently!) I will sure let you all know how it goes.

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 3975
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by mom3 » 02 Jan 2019, 22:22

Isn't it true that in US and World politics as well as in LDS and other church politics, a lot of changes happen at the top because of grassroots efforts that started at the bottom? I disagree that the Bishop and Stake President have no power. Of course they do. There's a chain of leadership that goes all the way to Salt Lake. If issues work their way up lots and lots of those chains of leadership all over the world, Salt Lake is bound to do something. I'd be shocked if the temple endowment ceremony changes announced today were due solely to a revelation given to the leadership in Salt Lake. That all started because of people voicing concerns about the temple ceremony the way it was before.
You may not have read it, but Nibbler did remind me of this. It is something I do believe. I believe feminists and others have spent years in prayer and conversation that have brought us to this point. I also believe the more "in" you are the better chance you have to move the needle. Not saying you have to hold a recommend. Only saying that being active, demonstrating support for ward members or the circle you are in, also help.

Change though does take a lot. What we are reaping now has been in the works for years. Back when President Hinckley was prophet and they changed recommends from one year to two year renewal, he stated that "there were other areas" they were looking into. I imagine lots of the present changes came from those conversations. That alone is 20 years of waiting.

So yes, you can be a change agent, just make sure you are prepared to hold out for a long time.

Sounds to me like family is second. That is great. Own 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

User avatar
dande48
Posts: 1443
Joined: 24 Jan 2016, 16:35
Location: Wherever there is danger

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by dande48 » 02 Jan 2019, 22:36

Curt Sunshine wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 21:21
Every question has a practical limit beyond which the required answer becomes a lie, no matter who gives that answer.

However, a WHOLE LOT of people see things between the extremes and can give the required answers honestly to every question from numerous points between the extremes.
But people do nuance their adultery, their abuse, their polygammy, etc. If we're leaving it open to personal interpretation, rather than the intent of the question, who can say where the limits lie? I'd reckon most people you feel have lied to get a Temple Recommend, don't feel the same way. And I think many people would look on your situation would say you lied to get the recommend. Some people might've said the same about me.

I think what it boils down to, is that we've all drawn different lines between what we consider honest and dishonest. The lines of others only matter as far as our trust in them is concerned. And frankly, I have a hard time trusting anyone (the Church included) who is in the habit of saying things that are "technically true", but purposefully lead to false conclusions. I'm not perfect, but I try to be better than that.
"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."
-Lemony Snicket

Curt Sunshine
Site Admin
Posts: 16575
Joined: 21 Oct 2008, 20:24

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Jan 2019, 13:47

I understand and respect that. I truly do.
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

User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 7124
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Heber13 » 03 Jan 2019, 16:28

dande48 wrote:
02 Jan 2019, 22:36
I think what it boils down to, is that we've all drawn different lines between what we consider honest and dishonest.
Well said, and to muddy the waters further, when we talk about "testimony" in God and the church and the prophet and frame the interview questions like that, it is kind of hard to really define exactly what that means other than what we perceive it to be anyway, as they kind of become subjective terms. It is hard to be dishonest when we are talking subjectively about how we feel.

In the end, I'm not sure how much it all matters in the grand scheme of things, right? If someone lied to go do service like baptism or other covenants for the salvation of others, besides that being kind of odd, it also isn't causing anyone any pain. Is it? God isn't calling those ordinances void to the names on the temple records, right? So...wherein is the harm? I guess it becomes the principle of the matter.

But if we are splitting hairs on definitions of what testimony in these things mean and what is really honest or dishonest about some arbitrary definitions, I'm not sure we should make it harder on ourselves than it needs to be. We don't get points for being a martyr for honesty, do we? So what does it really matter? i guess one could argue...peace of mind...and I think that was what Nibbler was saying back several pages ago. Do what helps you find peace.

There are limits. Lying to go record the ceremonies to broadcast it on the internet is in a different realm. Avoiding consequences to a wife by pretending outwardly to be good when causing so much pain to the family is in a different realm.
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."

mfree6464
Posts: 34
Joined: 23 Feb 2016, 17:07

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by mfree6464 » 03 Jan 2019, 16:49

squarepeg wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 09:05
We can't define "testimony" as "granting the possibility of truth" or "hoping that something is true," can we?
I think the answer to the OP as quoted above is, yes. Here is my thinking:

I don't believe members of the church are required to "know", we are required to have faith. The first principle of the gospel is Faith (not testimony or knowledge). The definitions you give above ('granting possibility of truth' and 'hoping that something is true') sound like wonderful descriptions of faith, which should be enough, right?

So I guess the real question for me is this: Is "testimony" an elevated requirement above and beyond that of "faith" or are they synonymous?

User avatar
Heber13
Posts: 7124
Joined: 22 Apr 2009, 16:37
Location: In the Middle

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Heber13 » 03 Jan 2019, 17:06

mfree6464 wrote:
03 Jan 2019, 16:49
squarepeg wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 09:05
We can't define "testimony" as "granting the possibility of truth" or "hoping that something is true," can we?
I think the answer to the OP as quoted above is, yes. Here is my thinking:

I don't believe members of the church are required to "know", we are required to have faith. The first principle of the gospel is Faith (not testimony or knowledge). The definitions you give above ('granting possibility of truth' and 'hoping that something is true') sound like wonderful descriptions of faith, which should be enough, right?

So I guess the real question for me is this: Is "testimony" an elevated requirement above and beyond that of "faith" or are they synonymous?
I agree with this. Well said.
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."

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 6664
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by DarkJedi » 03 Jan 2019, 17:14

We just disagree here. I hope that's okay. Buddhist, Daoist, and Hindu temples have their doors wide open, and they don't seem to lose sacredness because of that.
Except Buddhist, Daoist and Hindu temples are much more akin to our chapels, Jewish temples or Muslim mosques. We don't keep people out of our chapels, but people do exclude themselves. We might be fairly unique in our view of the temple being "more holy" than our other worship places, which has piqued my interest in looking into that.
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."

My Introduction

User avatar
Rumin8
Posts: 99
Joined: 25 Mar 2018, 14:00

Re: Temple recommend interviews and "testimony"

Post by Rumin8 » 04 Jan 2019, 00:02

This has been a facsinating any timely topic for me. Last year I decided not to renew my TR. My spouse and I have had a number of conversations about this decision. My spouse believes that I could pass the TR process. My spouse does not believe that the TR questions are intended to be answered with perfect obedience or adherence. I agree with my spouse.

I guess for me it boils down to this: If I wanted a TR recommend, I could have one. It’s ultimately between me and god. One could even view the TR process as an audible prayer where I am stating my worthiness out loud, to god. The interviewer in this scenario is simply the tool while ultimately the arbiter is me. One day, god will judge me. Until then, I am kept guessing.

I think ultimately god and me are in a good place. I try to be a good person and live by the golden rule. I do all things in moderation. I think god has bigger worries than little ol me. We’ll figure it all out when and if we are ever face to face.
"Moderation in all things, especially moderation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be excellent to each other." - Abraham Lincoln to Bill & Ted

Post Reply