Anthony Sweat on the "Sacred Silence" of the Temple + 2 Ways to Know If It's Okay to Talk About the Endowment

by | Jul. 09, 2018

Mormon Life

Imagine preparing for your baptism day with no idea what to expect, or imagine taking the sacrament each week without knowing why. 

For most members, participating in ordinances like these would be extremely baffling and even a little frustrating without knowing what was happening. Yet, sometimes, a "sacred silence" makes members feel the same way before they receive their temple endowment.  

In a Fair Mormon podcast with Kelsey Edwards and Nick Galieti, LDS author and BYU professor Anthony Sweat explains this "sacred silence" surrounding the temple endowment and how to know if it's okay to talk about what happens in the temple. 

► You'll also like: What Mormons Should (and Shouldn't) Say About What Happens Inside Temples

Author of The Holy Invitation and Mormons: An Open Book, Sweat has researched the temple thoroughly and has found that the Church has made many aspects of the temple endowment public. "The takeaway was the Church and the leaders are much more explicit and direct and open about the nature of the endowment, the teachings, the covenants than we are as members," Sweat said during the podcast. "It's the members who feel like they can't say anything."

So what can we say about the endowment? Sweat says he has two tests that help him determine what is safe to say about the endowment outside the temple. 

1. Has the Church or have Church leaders talked about it?

Some members might be surprised to find that the Church has actually published many public documents and even videos about the temple endowment. 

"I've kind of used as a rule of thumb, if Church leaders are talking about it [in their public discourse], then I feel like I can talk about it," Sweat shares. "If the Church has published things that have gone through their correlation or their curriculum divisions, then we can cite from it and quote from it."

In fact, as Sweat mentions in the podcast, the Church made a video showing what temple clothing looks like and what it symbolizes along with a video about temple garments and what they symbolize.

And the Church has also provided an overview of what the temple endowment symbolizes and what covenants we make during the endowment on lds.org

But even with information about the endowment readily available to anyone, members or nonmembers, some may still feel an uneasiness when talking about the endowment because they may not know when they may be going too far. To help determine what not to say, Sweat provided another test. 

2. Are we asked not to talk about it?

Another test to go by is whether or not we are asked during the endowment or by Church leaders not to talk about certain aspects of the ceremony outside the temple. 

It's also important to be respectful when discussing the temple and ordinances, so we should pay attention to the Spirit and the tone and intention of our conversations. 

"I would say in my research, the Church has asked us to be very careful when using specific wording in the temple and so I generally try to shy away from that," Sweat explains. 

Though there are things that we can't talk about outside the temple concerning the endowment, there are aspects that the Church has made public that we can discuss in respectful, appropriate ways. 

For the rest of the podcast, click here

Lead image from Getty Images

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You may feel a little intimidated when you're preparing to enter the temple for the first time. Fortunately, this book can help. It offers answers about the endowment by providing a frame for you to understand the purposes and procedures of its ordinances.

Explore the temple endowment from three different vantage points: the why, the what, and the how, so that when you go to the temple—whether for the first time or the hundredth—you can more fully absorb the learning and truth the Lord has in store for you.

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