Temple Covenant Breakthrough!!!

No Small Thing….To Me

Tonight, I had an epiphany so exciting that I could hardly wait to get in front of my computer.  It may not be a big deal to any other planet inhabitant.  But, it is huge to this one.

CovenantSearching the Covenants

Great emphasis is placed on the importance of keeping the covenants we make in the temple.  In the summer of 2015, as part of my faith journey, I carefully reviewed those weighty promises.  Quickly, I found myself with more questions than answers.  For the next 3 months, I diligently searched, studied, examined and prayed in an attempt to understand exactly what my commitments meant.  Attempts were made to discuss them in the men’s meeting held every Sunday.   No dice.  Supposedly it’s forbidden to discuss temple covenants in public.  I then asked church friends and leaders in private.  Initially, everybody said they understood what these sacred promises meant.  With the shallowest of interrogation, NOBODY had answers.  In fact, almost without exception, as I continued to press, this response would eventually rear it’s ironic head, “Sam, why do you even care?”  What???  Why do I care about what the temple covenants mean???  This experience was highly disappointing.  I was left disillusioned and dismayed.

When I initially entered into these fateful temple covenants, I was not told in advance what the promises even were.  They weren’t explained at the time I made them.  Years later, I still didn’t understand them.  Then, I’m told we can’t talk about them.   The coup-de-grace…..nobody else knows what they mean, either.

EpiphanyA Lovely, Lovely Epiphany

I don’t know exactly how or why an epiphany finally bursts into view.  But, it did tonight as I drove away from a family reunion.  While ruminating on my covenant disappointment, it hit me.  Not with a slow burn.  Rather, like a distinct and sharp crack of lightning, right before my eyes.

Today, I don’t use the word “know” lightly.  But, in this instant I suddenly “knew” what it means that nobody knows what my covenants mean.  And, I love this revelation.  My friends and leaders can’t possibly know the meaning of my covenants.  I did not make the promises to them.  I made them with God!  Only God and I know what I have promised!!!  Only I and God decide on the terms and their meaning.

How gorgeous!  What freedom!  Of course, the words for the covenants are the same for all.  It’s the meaning of those words that are individual and perhaps unique.  We are not told the meaning of the covenants in advance.  Of course not.  That’s because we can’t be told their meaning by others.  Our promises are determined by us.  We don’t study their significance in priesthood.  Of course not.  That’s because nobody knows their significance except the individual covenant maker.

I have struggled to get what the higher law of the temple is.  I get it now.  The higher law is simply this:  I am a thinking, reasonable,  & grown-up adult.  As such, I am trusted by God to determine exactly what I can & will promise.  He sets the wording.  Both, and only, He and I determine the definition.  YES!!!  Nobody can tell me what my covenants mean…except me.

It has been over 18 months since my last temple visit.  With my new epiphanific understanding, another temple visit may now be in my future.

To all my friends and leaders who had no answers, THANK YOU.  And, I mean it!

28 thoughts on “Temple Covenant Breakthrough!!!

  1. Love it. I adore the Endowment more each time for similar reasons. It is an interesting and powerful form of learning and revelation when you are prepared to ponder it with a mind open to all the possibilities. As a professional teacher I have been encouraged to be aware of how different people are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learners and to try and have a variety of those experiences in the lessons I teach. Physical rituals and ordinances are great at introducing kinaesthetic elements into a religion that is usually all about reading and listening.

    They also leave far more space for personal interpretation of meaning when all the details have not been interpreted and explained for you, so that gives you a lot of autonomy.

    I’m so pleased you have had a similar epiphany and I love the missing ingredient you have clarified for me that there isn’t a super-accurate interpretation somewhere that I have been missing and need to eventually work out, and we shouldn’t be worrying ourselves about arriving at an official
    Interpretation of what anything in our religion means if there isn’t one in the first place, or no one in leadership is prepared to tell us what it is.

    Some of the covenants are spelled out very clearly and I was really struck when I first went through my own endowment, which I went into expecting some properly Dungeons and Dragons stuff, how bland and ordinary and simple the ritual elements were, even back in the day with the scary Masonic penalties that have now mercifully been dropped.

    The big secret of the endowment turned out not to be a startling new pice of information – it came full circle back to very basic Christian principles that I had already committed to at baptism. It was saying the keys to becoming a super-advanced God-type person are practicing the basics and keeping it simple, and the crescendo of the ceremony was to pray together for people in need and be reminded that the meanings of the weirdest symbology, which are still pretty tame, in the Endowment point simply to Christ’s atonement for our sins, embracing all truth, loving learning, taking care of body and soul, and being reliable. Values that pretty much everyone can appreciate are really positive and the foundation of a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

    I also adore the unintentional camp humour of the storytelling and films so I have a good chuckle as well. Brits are raised on Pantomime, a sublime artform sadly missing from American culture if you don’t count the current election campaigns, and it adds an extra layer of joy to the experience if you let it. Terrible acting and over the top baddies while trying to be intensely serious hits the British satirical funny bone right on the spot. It reminds me that God has a massive sense of humour which is an essential ingredient of any truly awesome psyche. And that God is British, obviously.

    I also find the Endowment to be the most empowering feminist thing in Mormonism although many women feel the opposite or that some elements need further reform which fair enough. As I see it the biggest ‘take home’ messages about women in the Endowmentcare that they participate in what are clearly explained to be priesthood ordinances as priesthood holders, they are promised the opportunity to be priestesses and Goddesses in eternity alongside male priests and Gods, and Eve is very clearly presented as the Christlike one in the Garden of Eden who does all the intelligent thinking and innovating to seek knowledge and progression. She is the informed calarlyst for change while Adam cannot think outside the box, and is willing to make personal sacrifices to give life and salvation to all of humanity, just like Jesus. She demonstrates all the attributes that are traditionally associated with maleness – strategising, decisive innovative action, making tough decisions in a leadership role, fearlessness, focused ambition to make new discoveries – when it counts most.

    I wholeheartedly agree that having autonomy and claiming that autonomy to interpret the meanings you get from a ritualistic experience that is not fully interpreted for you is a very powerful and helpful spiritual discipline. It gives the Spirit far more space in which to communicate with you about your own spiritual journey and needs at each stage of your life. In a religion whose ultimate purpose is to accelerate us towards becoming independently powerful, thinking, creative, autonomous Gods using our abilities to do great stuff without having to be told what to do as the seminary scriptures in D and C 58 and 121 taught me as a teenager, the ‘open to interpretation’ nature of the Endowment is spot on. It’s just a shame that isn’t talked about or given as an approach more positively to people before they go to the temple. They are taught about covenants and symbolism and personal revelation to some extent in the temple prep classes, but maybe the full scope of it is something you are meant to work out for yourself over time. We just don’t have a Church culture that is comfortable enough with independent thinking even while it pays lip service to freeagency and choice and personal progression.

    But it comforts me a lot when grappling with that everyday cultural reality that the temple ordinances the most pharisaical leaders are constantly desperate for me to participate in as often as I can are communicating a message about life, the universe and everything that is actually powerfully subversive to much of their assumptions and worldview. That IS like being let in on a big cosmic secret hidden in plain sight, just not the one they are expecting. Going to the temple has become one of my most empowering acts of subversion against their controlling and unimaginative interpretation of religion. Who’d have thunk it?!

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  2. I’m confused. The covenants are laid out pretty plainly within the ceremony. They’re actually very un-vague.

    Obey the commandments. Sacrifice. Consecrate. Be pure. They’re the same for everybody.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear James,
      Plain. Un-vague. That’s exactly what everyone has told me. However, when I start to ask questions, no one, who previously said temple covenants were crystal clear, could respond with any clarity. Now, I’m glad nobody had answers. It’s up to me and God to establish exactly what they mean. In future posts, I plan to reveal insights on some of my promises. They have implications that I plan to act on. After all, I’ve made promise to God.

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  3. So simple, yet never thought of it this way. Thank’s Sam for answering this question. Now get back to the Temple with this new found discovery. I know I can’t wait.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sam, I have only been reading your blog for less than a week, but I think you just rounded one of the biggest corners in my faith transition. And it is a very natural thing. If you read James Fowler’s “Stages of Faith”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_W._Fowler, one very big change is the locus of authority. We are Mormons are very authoritarian and we look to our church leaders to answer our questions. You are finding just as I have that for my deep (and honest) questions, you don’t get answers from church leaders. I have come to really have a huge change in where the church sits in relation to my relationship with God. I saw a General Authority only about 6 months ago in a gathering of priesthood leadership draw on a white board that our relationship with God had the church in between. In other words, we HAVE to have the church to have a “true” relationship with God. About 2 years ago I also had a change that was instantaneous where I no longer believed that. It could be called an epiphany. I don’t see church leaders as evil (I am not an angry ex-mo, but I understand where some of the anger comes from). But their importance and even relevance to my relationship was drastically diminished. Now when I see them make what seem to me to be mistakes, I don’t react with anger. If they are teaching things that harm others (such as the November policy of exclusion) I feel fine speaking up in church saying how I feel, but always adding I respect and give space for others that don’t agree with me).

    And you know what – I feel the love of God like I never have before. I have a calmness about God and a clearer vision of what I need to do. I need to help as much as I can to others – and not the ones on my ward roster that have plenty of support. I need to help those that REALLY need help. It feels GREAT!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “But always adding I respect and give space for others that don’t agree with me.” I need to memorize this phrase and concept. Thanks! So, Happy Hubby, it looks like you are just around the bend, up ahead of me, on the same path. I don’t want you to tell me what will shortly come into view as I ’round the corner. This epiphanific experience was so extraordinary that I’m anxious to enjoy the next awaiting pleasant surprise, as a surprise.

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  5. Sam, congratulations on your epiphany. I’m sure you will receive a great deal of relief from this answer to your search. Yes, those covenants are something between you and Heavenly Father. There is the base, the bedrock, you can build on. Some of that sand has blown away for a sturdy foundation. Keep growing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maria, thanks, so much for your comment. My epiphany is not about temple attendance, time or money. It’s about my relationship with God. Nobody dictates that. Not the bishop, the stake president or the prophet. In the recent past, I was searching for others to tell me what I had promised to God in my temple covenants. Now, I view that as spiritual immaturity on my part. Wasting time? That’s a problem. Admission fees? A real problem. Shunning? It is common, accepted, and even preached and sanctioned. For me, shunning would break MY covenant with God. Homophobia? Oh yeah. Tears when I think of this. It’s wrong, hurtful, and shameful. Supporting the November policy would absolutely violate my temple covenants.

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  6. This has been my favorite post since empty chairs at empty tables. I’m so excited for you and I can’t wait to hear about your future epiphanies as you continue to grow your relationship with Heavenly Father! This is inspiring for me to do the same!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. While I like the thought, I have to say I disagree with the epiphany.

    The reason being, is that the temple covenants meanings were lost and occluded as the endowment ceremony has been changed. They can be understood, but it involves going back to the beginning of Mormonism.

    The temple was originally used to marry Joseph’s extra wives to him in secret, and it was a way to bring in his elites and swear them to secrecy.

    Then, Brigham went public with it all.

    Then they stopped practicing polygamy.

    Then they removed the blood oaths.

    They removed part of the drama and another important sign( the 5 points of fellowship) and so on.

    The endowment now is a pale shadow of what it once was. Ultimately, you are correct- though for a different reason. The church whitewashed the endowment so much, they scrubbed all the meaning out of it.

    …also, it’s not forbidden to discuss the covenants outside the temple. The only things which must be kept secret are the signs, tokens, and names. Not the covenants you must swear to recieve them. Pay attention to that next time you go. You only swear to keep the signs and tokens secret, nothing more.

    The endowment itself is a blatant rip off of Masonic rituals, and it is only after 1990 that It looks any different. Before Then, if you were a mason beforehand, you’d already know about everything you needed to know, and you’d Probably impress the guys why stand near the veil to help peoplev remember the very long password.

    Dig through church history( the real stuff, not the official whitewashed version) and you’ll start finding the answers you seek.

    If I didn’t know about the history myself, however, I would have gone with your epiphany.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Dear Shadow,
    I really appreciate your comments. I agree that the history of the endowment is fascinating. Although, I haven’t studied as much as you, I’ve have studied a bunch.

    Regarding the prohibition to speak of the covenants publicly. When I first asked in priesthood that we explore their meaning, virtually all of my quorum were in agreement that it was forbidden. Next, I appealed to the bishop. No question in his mind….no way should we talk about them. I pointed out that I had never made any such a promise. Later, I found several references where apostles had made the claim that temple covenants are so sacred that no discussion should be had outside the temple walls.

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  9. You keep using that word “covenant”. Using God’s covenant with Abraham as an example, what kind of promises did God give you in return for yours?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are good, Steve Winston. I haven’t worked that part out yet. Feeling like I have an exciting journey ahead, figuring it all out.

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      1. If the veil wording is God’s side of the covenant, that sounds pretty good. Except, I’ve got a lot of questions about what that means. However, I no longer look to anyone in the church to help with that one. Where as no promise was made not to discuss the covenants, we are strictly forbidden from ever revealing the name of this token in public, private or anywhere but the veil.

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  10. When I saw Kanye west, a famous rapper do a temple handshake on tv, I looked up and he was a free mason, I went into deep freemasonry study and it’s all Just a copy cat from freemasonry. I guess the celestial kingdom will be full of rappers, Mason’s and Mormon polygamists and anyone else who googles it.

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