Sharing appropriate details about the covenants made in the endowment can help prepare loved ones entering the temple for the first time, so they are not surprised by what takes place.
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the temple is the house of the Lord, and the ceremonies that take place inside are sacred. Members of the Church have been counseled not to share certain details of temple ordinances outside of the temple as a way to show reverence and respect.
At the same time, however, the Church has released an abundance of information about the temple and its ceremonies. And Church leaders have talked about the importance of sharing appropriate information in order to help prepare loved ones who are entering the temple for the first time, so they are not surprised by what takes place.
For example, President Ezra Taft Benson taught the following in a 1984 address:
“Because of [the temple’s] sacredness, we are sometimes reluctant to say anything about the temple to our children and grandchildren. As a consequence, many do not develop a real desire to go to the temple, or when they go there, they do so without much background to prepare them for the obligations and covenants they enter into.”
Many [go to the temple] without much background to prepare them for the obligations and covenants they enter into.
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For members wondering what is and is not OK to discuss outside the temple, the General Handbook is a great place to start. Section 27.2 gives many details about the temple, including the five covenants that members make when they receive the endowment:
In the endowment, members are invited to make sacred covenants as follows:
- Live the law of obedience and strive to keep Heavenly Father’s commandments.
- Obey the law of sacrifice, which means sacrificing to support the Lord’s work and repenting with a broken heart and contrite spirit.
- Obey the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the higher law that He taught while He was on the earth.
- Keep the law of chastity, which means that a member has sexual relations only with the person to whom he or she is legally and lawfully wedded according to God’s law.
- Keep the law of consecration, which means that members dedicate their time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed them to building up Jesus Christ’s Church on the earth.
In return, Heavenly Father promises that those who remain faithful to their temple covenants will be endowed “with power from on high” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:32, 38; see also Luke 24:49; Doctrine and Covenants 43:16). (General Handbook, 27.2.)
The handbook also discusses the format of the endowment and the blessings it offers:
The word endowment means “a gift.” The temple endowment is literally a gift from God through which He blesses His children. The endowment can be received only in holy temples. Some of the gifts that members receive through the temple endowment include:
- Greater knowledge of the Lord’s purposes and teachings.
- Power to do all that Heavenly Father wants His children to do.
- Divine direction when serving the Lord, their families, and others.
- Increased hope, comfort, and peace.
All the promised blessings of the endowment are in force both in this life and for eternity. The fulfillment of these blessings depends on faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The endowment is received in two parts. In the first part, a person receives a preliminary ordinance called the initiatory. The initiatory is also known as the washing and anointing (see Exodus 29:4–9). It includes special blessings related to the person’s divine heritage and potential.
During the initiatory, the member is authorized to wear the temple garment. The garment represents his or her personal relationship with God and the commitment to obey covenants made in the temple. When members are faithful to their covenants and wear the garment properly throughout their lives, it also serves as a protection. For information about wearing and caring for the garment, see 38.5.5.
In the second part of the endowment, the plan of salvation is taught, including the Creation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Apostasy, and the Restoration. Members also receive instruction on how to return to the Lord’s presence. (General Handbook, 27.2.)
Even as it shares this information, the General Handbook points out in section 27.0 that there is some information given in the temple that members specifically promise not to reveal, including certain symbols:
“Temple covenants and ordinances are sacred. The symbols associated with temple covenants should not be discussed outside the temple. Nor should we discuss the holy information we promise in the temple not to reveal. However, we may discuss the basic purposes and doctrine of temple covenants and ordinances and the spiritual feelings we have in the temple”
In a 2019 general conference address, Elder David A. Bednar quoted the statement by President Benson at the beginning of this article, and he gave further explanation:
Two basic guidelines can help us achieve the proper understanding emphasized by President Benson.
Guideline #1. Because we love the Lord, we always should speak about His holy house with reverence. We should not disclose or describe the special symbols associated with the covenants we receive in sacred temple ceremonies. Neither should we discuss the holy information that we specifically promise in the temple not to reveal.
Guideline #2. The temple is the house of the Lord. Everything in the temple points us to our Savior, Jesus Christ. We may discuss the basic purposes of and the doctrine and principles associated with temple ordinances and covenants.
Elder Bednar continued:
Across the generations, from the Prophet Joseph Smith to President Russell M. Nelson, the doctrinal purposes of temple ordinances and covenants have been taught extensively by Church leaders. A rich reservoir of resources exists in print, audio, video, and other formats to help us learn about initiatory ordinances, endowments, marriages, and other sealing ordinances. Information also is available about following the Savior by receiving and honoring covenants to keep the law of obedience, the law of sacrifice, the law of the gospel, the law of chastity, and the law of consecration. All Church members should become familiar with the excellent materials available at temples.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
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