In this Series we're discussing what the celestial standard might look like for temple worthiness and worship.
1. All covenants involve the promise to love (sealing). Covenants are kept by lowering ourselves to lift others up (so in a way all covenants are covenants of condescension, which typifies the love of God).
2. We've discussed how covenants are not cumulative. They are cyclical. (The "covenant path" is not linear but round.) Neither are covenants chronological.
3. We want to focus on the aspects of covenants and of the temple that are eternal. Something is "eternal" if it is (1) endless and (2) unchanging. Laws of the Celestial Kingdom are eternal. We are also eternal beings (that is, our spirits).
4. Why would eternal beings, in order to qualify to enter the temple and make eternal covenants, need to follow anything other than eternal laws? (As examples, tithing and the Word of Wisdom are not eternal.)
5. What is the purpose of temple recommend interviews to determine our worthiness when none of us is "worthy" (except the Lamb)?
6. The Israelites refused the Celestial Law from God through Moses, and so they were condemned to live the "law of carnal commandments" which Christ fulfilled and cancelled forevermore (see 3 Nephi 15:3-6).
7.When we condition temple recommends on following the law of carnal commandments, we are taking a step backwards towards the lesser law. (It is like sending a Senior in high school back to Kindergarten.) This is a tacit rejection of the Celestial Law given by Christ (and shows we are repeating the same error as our forefathers).
8. The scriptures teach quite a different thing than a checklist to be read by a Bishop. Paul taught that the "end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart" (1 Tim. 1:5).
9.So what qualifies a person to enter into the temple? I presume the same thing that qualifies a person to enter into the presence of God: a "pure heart," as Jesus taught (Matt. 5:8). Words can lie. Appearances can deceive. Love cannot.
10. By establishing a sort of litmus test for entering the temple, haven't we positioned ourselves as the Pharisee from Christ's parable who said, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican" (Luke 18:11)? Are temple recommends treated as proof we're better than those other sinners?
11. We make the temple a "house of merchandise" when we grant entry in exchange for tithing. By putting a price tag on temple recommends, we affirm that the ordinances, tokens, and covenants of exaltation are available ― for a price. This is one way we pollute the house of the Lord (and is what Ezekiel called "extortion" (Ezekiel 22:12) = holding salvation hostage for money, which unequally discriminates against the poor, which Isaiah calls "oppression" (Isaiah 3:15).
12. History shows a pattern of temples getting destroyed when the Lord's people become hardened. The First Jewish Temple was destroyed by Babylon. The Second Temple was destroyed by Rome. The Nauvoo Temple was burned by mobs.
13. According to the Apostle Paul and Martyr Stephen, "the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands" (Acts 7:48; also Acts 17:24). The living temple of God is the Body of Christ (meaning his family). It is the collective, invisible Church.
14. There was prophesied a 3rd Temple to be built (as in, a physical building), which will be the temple of the New Jerusalem.
15. We have continued to build temples even though we have not restored Zion; and the plentitude of temples has not produced Zion. Why is that?
16. Temple ordinances do not save us. They do not exalt us. Only Christ can. The temple is not Christ; Christ is the temple. The temple can point us to Christ, but it can also supplant Christ as the focus our faith when we rely upon the forms of godliness rather than upon God.
Let's talk about the word "endowment." I am not talking about the endowment of institutions like Harvard (whose endowment is worth $42 Billion).
In Part 19 of the Series, "Done by Common Consent," I said:
So what is Zion?
Zion is . . . a marriage.
Zion is a marriage that produces a family.
Zion is a marriage that produces a family of equals.
Zion is a marriage that produces a family of equal sons and daughters of Christ.
Recall that Christ is the Bridegroom and Zion is the bride. Keep that in mind while reading the following verse from Exodus, which is the only place we find the word "endow" in the Bible:
And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife.
Well, this just got awkward. It is clearer if we read another translation:
If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed and sleeps with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife.
(Exodus 22:16, NASB)
And it is important to remember who the man pays the dowry to: the father.
The metaphor of Christ / Church (Bridegroom / Zion) makes more sense when we remember that while Christ has always been faithful to us, Israel has not always been faithful to Him. Endowment = Dowry (Dower)
In the old days, a bridegroom would sometimes give a dowry to his bride. A dower was a gift (usually property).
A dowry included at least three parties: (1) the groom; (2) the bride; and (3) the father of the bride.
The endowment includes three parties: (1) Christ (groom); (2) Zion (bride); and (3) the Father.
I know we like to think of the temple endowment as something individuals receive; but I think we need to understand that the temple is not about individual salvation: it is about the salvation of a people (Zion).
See if you can spot the three parties in this verse:
I gave unto you a commandment that you should build a house, in the which house I ["Bridegroom"] design to endow those whom I have chosen ["Zion"] with power from on high; For this is the promise of the Father ["Father"] unto you.
So what's the dower Christ paid? What was Christ's gift to His bride?
Purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean;
That I may testify unto your Father that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you.
Don't you just love weddings?!
A Wedding and a Funeral
Why don't we conduct funerals in the temple?
I mean, we're doing a lot of work for the dead there already, aren't we? So why don't we build basilicas filled with graves?
In American Society, there are two life-events for which the entire clan gathers:
1. Weddings; and 2. Funerals.
The point: what's odd about how things work spiritually is that the funeral comes before the wedding.
Now, I am not talking about corpse brides or zombie weddings. I hate to say this; please don't misunderstand (I am speaking spiritually): Life doesn't really begin until we're married.
That is, our spiritual life is non-existent until we join into union with Christ.
Ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead.
The temple was meant to bring Zion to the altar, where she might be married to her Sweetheart.
Moroni captures this image in his final message:
Awake, and arise from the dust, [see, we were dead and here we are reborn]
O Jerusalem; yea, and put on thy beautiful garments, [think of our wedding gown]
O daughter of Zion. . . that the covenants of the Eternal Father which he hath made unto thee,
O house of Israel, may be fulfilled. (Moroni 10:31)
Here, the couple does not exchange rings. They exchange blood. Christ's pure blood. We were lifeless before His blood transfusion. Christ paid the bride price with his own blood.
And we want to squabble over cigarettes and coffee?