Recently my wife told me I am not very "self-aware" sometimes. I nodded and agreed. (What can I say? "Agree with thine adversary quickly," Matt. 5:25).
She was right, of course. I think we all need others to help us with our blind spots.
But I hope we are self-aware when it comes to our place in the unfolding Restoration.
For example, why is it we read about the Jewish Temples being destroyed by Babylon and Rome, and chalk it up to God's judgment for their wickedness; and then when our own temples get destroyed we think, "Hey, that's persecution!"
The Lord promised the Latter-day Saints:
[But if] they pollute mine holy grounds, and mine holy ordinances, and charters, and my holy words which I give unto them,
it shall come to pass that if you build a house unto my name, and do not do the things that I say, I will not perform the oath which I make unto you, neither fulfil the promises which ye expect at my hands, saith the Lord.
For instead of blessings, ye, by your own works, bring cursings, wrath, indignation, and judgments upon your own heads, by your follies, and by all your abominations, which you practice before me, saith the Lord.
Temple Session . . . or Obsession?
Temples are kind of a Mormon trademark.
Other Christian churches don't have temples, so why do we?
And do we even need temples?
Well, yes and no.
Let's go back in time. Before the temple-building-years, there were the Zion-building-years.
Back in 1831-1833 the Saints sought revelation from God on all-things-Zion. And one of the cool things they learned was that God wanted them to build a temple as part of the coming Zion.
In fact, 2000 years ago John the Revelator described this remarkable temple (the 3rd Temple) which would be built in the New Jerusalem (see, Revelation 11:1-2).
Sadly, at some point we abandoned our plans for the New Jerusalem but kept as a carry-over our ideas about its temple.
Isn't that strange? We are left with temples but not Zion.
That's like keeping the engine to a car we no longer have. How far will it take us?
By July 1833, the Lord said the Saints' "inheritances" in Jackson County, Missouri had become "polluted" (D&C 101:6) (there's that word again!).
Finally, the Prophet was slain and the saints scattered.
Temple Ordinance Quiz
True or False. Salvation and exaltation are obtained through temple ordinances.
True or False. Salvation and exaltation are obtained through Jesus Christ.
Sometimes I wonder if we should rewrite the scriptures to reflect modern sensibilities:
And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the [ordinances of the temple] with unshaken faith [in your leaders], relying wholly upon the merits of [your temple covenants, which are] mighty to save.
(2 Nephi 31:19, 21st Century Ed.]
If you think I butchered that passage, think again. Has anyone listened to General Conference, lately?
Last month President Henry B. Eyring gave a talk in General Conference called "I Love to See the Temple" and said:
"When we are worthy to receive such teaching, there can growthrough our temple experience hope, joy, and optimism throughout our lives. That hope, joy, and optimism are available onlythrough accepting the ordinances performed in holy temples."
Wow. I guess I need to spend some time in Summer School and brush up on my soteriology, because I thought Nephi taught:
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and alove of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.
(2 Nephi 31:20-21)
Lesson Learned:The temple is not Christ; Christ is the temple.
Objection, Your Honor
Someone out there is shaking their head. "Come on, Tim. The temple brings us unto Christ by moving us along the Covenant Path. We make sacred covenants with God in the holy temple, so what's the big deal?"
Parable Part 1
Once a young girl wanted to learn to sew. She dreamed of the beautiful gowns she would sew and wear to fancy parties and balls.
The girl went to her mother. "Mother, I want to be become a great seamstress. I shall design and create the most wonderful outfits! What do I need?"
Her mother said, "Well, you'll need fabric. And thread. And of course, you cannot become a seamstress without a sewing machine."
"Where can I find a sewing machine?" the girl asked.
"Sewing machines are expensive, dear," her mother said. "You will have to earn the money. When you have enough, I will buy you a sewing machine."
And so the girl, delighted, worked very hard. She cleaned the neighbor's house. She tutored the boy down the street. And after a long time she earned enough money to buy a sewing machine.
Her mother took her to the fabric store and they selected a beautiful Bernina sewing machine. When they brought it home it was the happiest day of her life.
She admired her sewing machine. She sat down at the table and looked at all of the buttons. Then she took some silk fabric and thread and turned the machine on.
She had no idea what to do. She fumbled about and made a mess of things.
In tears, she ran to her mother and said, "I cannot sew! What good is this machine if it cannot make me fancy dresses?"
The mother replied, "My dear, the machine does not make the dress; it is but a tool. It cannot teach you. You must learn to use the machine from another."
Parable Part 2
[For those of you just joining us, a sewing machine represents our temple covenants]
It was hard work going to night sewing school. The young woman had thick fingers that kept getting caught in the needle, and she hardly had time to learn to sew with all of her other hobbies and interests.
She graduated from her first-year sewing class and was given a certificate. She framed the certificate and hung it on the wall. (Never mind that she could not make a decent garment.)
However, while she failed as a seamstress, she had learned to make money saving up for her sewing machine. So she returned to business and made enough money to buy many pretty dresses off the rack at Nordstrom.
As she became a woman, the sewing machine sat in her closet, unused.
She found it was easier to buy things with money than to make things herself.
And they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely (Alma 1:27).
Let all thy garments be plain, and their beauty the beauty of the work of thine own hands (D&C 42:40).
Parable Part 3
Years later the girl (now a woman) gave birth to her own daughter.
Her daughter admired the Sewing Certificate that hung on the wall. "Mother," she said, "I want to learn to sew. Can you teach me?"
Mother: "Of course, dear! I have a sewing machine here in the closet that I've been saving for you. I will teach you everything I know," she said, smiling.
Together they made socks and an asymmetrical hat. The little daughter was overjoyed.
"Mother," the little girl said with admiration in her eyes, wearing the lumpy hat, "You are an amazing seamstress!"
"I know, dear," the mother said. "I know." And the mother sat back, happy to be passing along the skills she had learned long ago in her sewing class, her gaze lingering on the Sewing Certificate displayed proudly on the wall.
If temple rituals are intended to symbolize us conversing with the Lord through the veil, what is the point if we do not, in fact, converse with the Lord through the veil?
Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.