What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

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nibbler
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What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by nibbler » 08 Jan 2015, 16:02

For both the member seeking temple recommend renewal and the ecclesiastical leader?

The following comment was made in the TR Question Survey - Question 13: Unresolved Sins thread.
wayfarer wrote:The bottom line is this: if you actually feel like you need to confess something, don't do it in a temple recommend interview. Do it ahead of time, or realize that you don't need to do it at all.
I agree that if someone wants to confess to a BP it makes more sense to schedule a meeting with the BP to do so rather that leave it for a TR interview. On the other hand I could envision a scenario where someone wouldn't want to ask their ES to schedule an appointment with the BP out of concerns that the ES will judge them. A person might just wait until their TR interview comes up to mask the fact that they have an issue.

What's the end goal of asking the obedience questions if not to provide a catalyst for a confession? It seems like the larger portion of the TR interview is dedicated for such a purpose.

I don't think the ecclesiastical leader or the "church" have any real goals (or maybe a better word is expectations) out of the interview process. That said, leaders set very rigid TR questions. I think it's all about the individual being interviewed and what they get out of the experience and I think that the church only expects people to grow. In that light, how are these interviews meant to help people grow?
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DarkJedi
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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Jan 2015, 16:23

I've always thought the interview questions were designed for self reflection. Since my faith transition I believe so even more.
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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by Heber13 » 08 Jan 2015, 17:00

It is a checkpoint, and while self-reflection is part of it so we can testify of our commitments, the authority figure has an opportunity to deny the recommend. They have to recommend you to be worthy for going to the temple, and if things are not in order, they control the issuance of the recommend.

I have heard a member of the stake presidency tell me privately, "What I know about this person, I would not sign a recommend for that person, no matter what they say in the interview." Because they can "go by the spirit", they have a stewardship to only sign it when they feel the person is worthy. If they know of things prior to an interview...they will bring those questions into the interview or probe deeper to challenge honest answers or stop the interview and say they cannot sign it until further discussions happen (which are rare).

However, how things are said in the interviews can put at ease or heighten the interviewer's concerns on signing. The threads that Wayfarer put together about these questions all pointed out a good message...simple Yes or No answers suffice.

But...it is not just about us answering the questions. It is about the authority figure putting their stamp of approval on it, to maintain righteousness in the temple.

How does that help you grow? From their standpoint...it is keeping accountability until the person can "grow" to answer the questions correctly. That's how they see it.

I have no problem with the church having their rules, and having a way to enforce them. I only have problems when leaders do it harshly and without love and don't care to understand the need of the individual.
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Luke: "A certain point of view?"
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SilentDawning
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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Jan 2015, 21:33

I also consider it a lever to keep people responding in ways that help the church organization. The interview reaffirms your commitment to the church and gospel. It maintains your status as a full-fledged member, eligible for certain callings, among the elect of God. It keeps your marriage happy if your spouse is TBM, and keeps families together as a result, which is good for the church. And it also keeps the church solvent as tithing is a requirement.

There are the given spiritual reasons -- worthiness to enter the temple, etcetera as well.
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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by Caveman » 08 Jan 2015, 21:56

A TR is usually done only by the BP or Bishop only if it is a first TR interview or if the TR has lapsed, other wise it is a counselor who gives the interview. I had to give many of these interviews as a counselor and believe me, it was quite routine with no expectations on my part as the person doing the interview. Now I was strictly instructed to refer the person to the Bishop to complete the TR interview if there was a problem, but this was seldom the case. As mentioned before, they are yes or no questions and we were not suppose to pry or dig.

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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 09 Jan 2015, 08:21

nibbler wrote:For both the member seeking temple recommend renewal and the ecclesiastical leader?...if someone wants to confess to a BP it makes more sense to schedule a meeting with the BP to do so rather that leave it for a TR interview. On the other hand I could envision a scenario where someone wouldn't want to ask their ES to schedule an appointment with the BP out of concerns that the ES will judge them. A person might just wait until their TR interview comes up to mask the fact that they have an issue...What's the end goal of asking the obedience questions if not to provide a catalyst for a confession? It seems like the larger portion of the TR interview is dedicated for such a purpose...I don't think the ecclesiastical leader or the "church" have any real goals (or maybe a better word is expectations) out of the interview process. That said, leaders set very rigid TR questions...
To me it looks like the primary purpose of the temple recommend questions is to try to enforce what the Church currently considers the minimum required qualifications to be a good Mormon. Traditional Mormonism is basically an enforced religion in the sense that the Church doesn't just preach some of these ideas, they absolutely expect members to go along with all of it and if not then they are supposedly unworthy and other members are likely to notice and almost certainly disapprove.

So I don't think they are necessarily trying to get people to confess as much as trying to get members to conform and Church leaders would typically mostly like to see members just go through the motions and answer all these questions the expected way because to them that sounds more or less equivalent to saying, "I'm alright, you don't need to worry about me." They are basically a periodic check-up and reminder of exactly the way the Church expects active members to be. For example, if some members don't pay tithing for a while and they don't want to miss someone's wedding sometimes they will start paying tithing again in large part because they know that it will come up in the temple recommend interview. Of course, there are limitations to just how far this goes in effectively enforcing strict compliance.

For example, it seems like there are more than a few Church members that won't hesitate to act in a shady and misleading way when money is involved but that doesn't stop them from answering that they are supposedly honest in their dealings with their fellow man and maybe in some cases they actually believe it themselves because of the obvious self-serving bias involved. Also, in theory masturbation could already be considered reason enough to answer no to the question about living the Law of Chastity but how often do members actually answer "no" to this question over this versus all the times they answer "yes" even though they continue to masturbate sometimes? Not that I would expect them to answer "no" any more than they already do because it would typically be uncomfortable to talk about especially with someone that is basically their neighbor they see every week at Church and could run into while walking the dog plus it would be inconvenient for people to have to confess this in every single interview.
Last edited by DevilsAdvocate on 15 Jan 2015, 08:27, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by nibbler » 09 Jan 2015, 08:26

Thanks for the comments. I guess I've got some misunderstanding or other, maybe Ray or wayfarer could clarify.

A TR interview might not be the best place to confess something but it would seem like providing people with an opportunity to confess sin is one of the goals of some of the questions. E.g.

Do you obey the word of wisdom?
No.

Let's assume that it's the BP that's asking. I wouldn't expect them to proceed on to the next question or to stop the interview and tell the person to schedule another meeting with their ES to discuss at a later date. I'd expect the BP to ask followup questions or for the person to go on clarify why they said no.

I'm just wondering why it's generally a bad idea to confess in a TR interview when the obedience questions seem to steer people in that direction. Especially with the "Are there any unresolved sins" question at the end, which I always took as being another way of saying "Are you reeeeeeeealy sure about your answers, you sure there's not something you want to tell me????"

As far as a BP vs. one of his counselors giving the interview... before the move to renewing the TR every two years there was always a long line. I've seen the first come first serve approach where the BP and his counselors are all there giving renewal interviews and you could be interviewed by any of the three, depending on your spot in line and when others are exiting their interview.
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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by wayfarer » 10 Jan 2015, 08:23

As we noted in the summary comment in the TR interview survey,
wayfarer wrote:The Temple Recommend interview is not the time to discuss faith issues before the Priesthood. The questions are simple, and should be answered "yes" or "no" as appropriate. Because many of us are in a faith transition or hold unorthodox beliefs, our answers are often more complex and nuanced than the typical true believing, white-or-black response. As well, we often think we need to answer the question according to what we impute the intent of the question to be according to the interviewer or standard church definition of things. This is not the case.

There are multiple approaches to finding a faithful way within the church -- one does not have to be orthodox or to believe standard doctrines in order to be worthy for a temple recommend.

- If you want to have a temple recommend and be authentic and honest, then basic observance to the behavior norms is in order.

- If you do not feel that basic observance (chastity, WoW, Tithing...) is in the stars for you, then perhaps it might be a good idea not seek a temple recommend.

- Faithfulness requires integrity -- no one surveyed would recommend outright lying.
Please read the full post here.
nibbler wrote:Thanks for the comments. I guess I've got some misunderstanding or other, maybe Ray or wayfarer could clarify.

A TR interview might not be the best place to confess something but it would seem like providing people with an opportunity to confess sin is one of the goals of some of the questions.

...

I'm just wondering why it's generally a bad idea to confess in a TR interview when the obedience questions seem to steer people in that direction. Especially with the "Are there any unresolved sins" question at the end, which I always took as being another way of saying "Are you reeeeeeeealy sure about your answers, you sure there's not something you want to tell me????"
Like you note in your post, the bishops and counselors doing TR interviews are focused on getting through as many as possible. I don't think it's right for us to request an interview, knowing that we'll fail and then expecting to get counseling for our disobedience in what should be 10 minute interview. If I were applying for a job requiring a clean record, why would I waste everyone's time if I had an outstanding criminal offense? It doesn't make sense, it wastes everyone's time, and doesn't serve either to get a TR, nor does it give your confession the due pastoral care it may require.

Like we said in the summary, go to a TR interview after you have taken care of any past sins, sorted out your faith and testimony, and go in confidently knowing you are "worthy" of it.
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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by nibbler » 10 Jan 2015, 09:42

I understand the counsel to keep things to a simple yes and no for people with nuanced faith. Orthodox members probably keep it to a yes or no response because they really are yes/no questions for them. I was more talking about the general membership of the church, not for the subgroup of people with faith issues.

I also agree that it's a waste of time to go into a TR interview knowing there's an issue ahead of time.
wayfarer wrote:Like you note in your post, the bishops and counselors doing TR interviews are focused on getting through as many as possible. I don't think it's right for us to request an interview, knowing that we'll fail and then expecting to get counseling for our disobedience in what should be 10 minute interview. If I were applying for a job requiring a clean record, why would I waste everyone's time if I had an outstanding criminal offense? It doesn't make sense, it wastes everyone's time, and doesn't serve either to get a TR, nor does it give your confession the due pastoral care it may require.

Like we said in the summary, go to a TR interview after you have taken care of any past sins, sorted out your faith and testimony, and go in confidently knowing you are "worthy" of it.
If taken to that extreme one need only request a TR interview to show that they're worthy. The interview itself would be unnecessary. Of course you could say that about a lot of things, like the final judgment for instance. Maybe that's what I'm getting at. Giving an account to a leader must still be important for the person giving the account in cases where the outcome is already known. The return and report.

While it may be a waste of everyone's time/not ideal I still have to think that the people that set the interview questions still view the process as an opportunity for people to confess.
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Re: What is the goal of the temple recommend interview?

Post by Caveman » 14 Jan 2015, 20:57

There is so much that one does not need to confess to a Bishop to "resolve a sin". If its a question of a self hurt sin, like the WoW, law of chasity issues short of Adultry and Fornication, then that and so much more can be resolved between you and the Lord. You don't need a middleman. The Lord forgives when we repent and remembers no more. FORGIVENESS IS INSTANT. Read the Story of the Adulteress. Here the Pharisees (the church) was ready to pass judgement and stone the woman to death. Christ intervened and forgave her right there. No excommunication, No with holding the sacrament, no wait a year and maybe you can go on a mission because someone looked at porn and masterbated. I was in the Bishopric up till last month and can tell you that the only sins the need to be confessed are Adultry, Fornication and Felonies. After which the Bishop will contact the SP and start procedures for a church court.

I wonder if the church gets in the way of peoples repentance sometimes. The whole idea of being worthy, having to reach perfection and so forth has been toxic to many and though the Lord forgives us we just cant forgive ourselves. The church has made a mistake in that they teach that a person must never commit the sin again as part of repentance process. Any one remember 70 times 7? If we regret something and want forgiveness then its not like we are planning on repeating the sin. If we repent then we want it off our chest. So often we are week and succumb over and over to our weakness. God gives us weaknesses so that we keep coming to him. We are subject to the world and sin is in our nature. Its part of the plan and makes us look inside, reevaluate, seek strength and come to the Lord. Guilt and shame can bring us to repentance. It can also destroy us if we dont forgive ourselves and just realized that sin is part of the plan. But dont take my word, ask God.

Caveman

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