Temple Marriage Litmus Test

July 11, 2005 | 163 comments
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When I lived in Oregon, a member of my ward suggested a state-of-the-marriage litmus test for couples who had been married in the temple. The purpose of this test is to provide an early warning signal of trouble in the marriage. Although these sorts of tests are inevitably simplistic, this one intrigued me: if you have lost your desire to attend the temple, your marriage is in trouble.

Over the years, I have observed circumstances in which this test seemed to forecast trouble, so I mentioned it yesterday in the priesthood class in hopes of prompting a discussion. Later in the day, I received this email from another member of the ward:

The thought you conveyed from a member of your former ward in Oregon concerning not desiring to go to the temple and one’s marriage being in jeopardy because of that has stuck with me all afternoon, and I think I know why. It is because the marriage covenant involves three people (the couple and the Lord), and if one is not desiring to be in the Lord’s presence, then their covenant is in jeopardy, regardless of how well they might think they love their spouse. They can love their spouse with what they believe is an eternal, undying love, yet that love can only continue in unity in the Lord’s presence. If that presence is shunned, then so is the marriage covenant necessarily shunned because at least one spouse does not truly have the desire to live in the only environment (kingdom of glory) in which the marriage covenant can endure beyond mortality.

I think he might be onto something, but I would be interested to hear other thoughts.

163 Responses to Temple Marriage Litmus Test

  1. Geoff J on July 12, 2005 at 12:55 am

    What should we define as a desire to go the temple, Gordon? Or rather, how often should one desire to go to the temple per year/month/week, etc? Does desiring to attend once a quarter put a marriage on safe ground in this proposed litmus test or is a monthly desire the minimum? Or is it that as long as one desires to go back some day the marriage is on safe ground?

    Just curious…

  2. Ashley on July 12, 2005 at 1:18 am

    I think there’s often a significant difference between doing an endowment session and doing sealings as a couple. While the endowment session is, in a way, a solitary process, doing sealings can be an intimate, connected sort of experience. Performing the ordinance as a proxy couple can be a way to renew the marriage covenant.

    I imagine there are many who at different times lose their desire to attend an endowment session (I hated the couple of times I went during pregnancy–and after children come, it’s a long time to leave them with a sitter, etc.) but perhaps not their desire for doing sealings (the time committment usually being so much less, the direct reflection of their own marriage being prompted by the proxy work).

    I think what you are saying by losing “your desire to attend the temple” is something far more serious than simple aversion to sitting for that long, or leaving one’s children for that long, though.

  3. Ben H on July 12, 2005 at 1:25 am

    Well, it’s one thing to be super busy and sincerely want to go, but never quite find a day when you’re ready to drive the two hours each way etc., and another to feel like you wouldn’t enjoy it if you were there. A certain introspective honesty is probably required in most cases, to make good use of this test. I can just imagine a lot of slightly psycho people asking their spouses if they want to go to the temple this Saturday and jumping to conclusions! . . . but the fact is I think there is really something to this idea.

  4. Wilfried on July 12, 2005 at 2:46 am

    Amazing what we can invent as strategies for guilt trips.

  5. Jack on July 12, 2005 at 4:14 am

    Wilfried,

    My guilt was beginning to mount as I thought about how I would fair on such a test, that is, until I read your comment upon which I immediately burst into laughter.

    Thanks for helping me laugh my unnecessary guilt away.

  6. Sister Anonymous on July 12, 2005 at 4:29 am

    My marriage is in the toilet but I still love to go to the temple and enjoy going. It makes me feel all right though things are not right. I wonder if I can interpret this test as cause to hope?

    The RS lesson on temple marriage yesterday, otoh, was misery.

  7. Sue on July 12, 2005 at 10:13 am

    I’ve never enjoyed the temple. Not on the way there, not while I’m there, not at all. And yet my marriage is fantastic. Make of that what you will.

    Litmus tests are silly.

  8. Gordon Smith on July 12, 2005 at 10:27 am

    Geoff, My response would be exactly what Ben wrote. I am not suggesting an enforceable legal standard. Indeed, I am not suggesting that this sort of thing would be useful in evaluating others at all. (My comment about observing “circumstances in which this test seemed to forecast trouble” was not meant to imply that we should attempt to make such forecasts, only that I could see a correlation with perfect hindsight.) I think “introspective honesty” would be the key.

    Wilfried, Last month I had a physical. The doctor recorded my weight, my blood pressure, my cholesteral, etc. I think that many people benefit from having comparable measures of spiritual health. Am I reading my scriptures? Saying my prayers? Going to the temple? Just as none of the physical diagnostics can capture the whole person, none of these measures capture the whole spiritual person, but they might still be useful to some people. If you think “desire to attend the temple” is an inappropriate way to measure spiritual health, perhaps you could explain way, but don’t resort to mocking as a substitute for reason.

  9. Wilfried on July 12, 2005 at 10:41 am

    You’re right, Gordon. I apologize. My remark was not meant to mock, but don’t you think that sometimes our members, who really do all what they have to do or can do, leave a Sunday lesson feeling guillty? I don’t think they deserve that. And though a desire to go to the temple is certainly praiseworthy, it is not (yet) a question on the “official” list for worthiness. And I would guess there are people with a wonderful marriage without that constant desire.

  10. Dan Barnes on July 12, 2005 at 11:01 am

    Sometimes “desire to attend the temple” is an escape from having to manifest true spiritual health, ie, dealing with your fellow man. Have a couple of acquaintences who are temple attenders (one a worker) who are escaping their failing families and marriages. But to them, all is well, they are in the temple. They’ve made temple attendence the ONLY measure of their spritual health.

    I attend the temple, but I do not see it as the ultimate spiritual experience.

    That being said, please do not contact my stake leaders, they will have a coronary.

  11. Sue on July 12, 2005 at 11:02 am

    Wilifried – I think your comment was right on.

    Gordon – you were not addressing me (regarding if “desire to attend the temple” is an appropriate way to measure spiritual health), but I will answer anyway. I’m voting for – it is not. The appropriate way to measure spiritual health it is if we attend, not if we desire to attend. Aren’t there commandments that people postulate only exist because the important thing is obedience to the commandment, not necessarily the commandment itself – for example, the Word of Wisdom? I know I didn’t express that well, can’t figure out how else to say it with a baby on my lap.

    Hardly anyone admits it, but I would venture to say that many people do not necessarily enjoy the temple. If they did, increasing temple attendance would not be such a problem within the church. Or maybe I’m just kidding myself, to rationalize away my own temple experiences.

  12. Jed on July 12, 2005 at 11:16 am

    I think Wilfried makes a good point. A marriage can remain strong through temple attendance, but that does not mean that all marriages must have temple attendance to remain strong. Historically, temple attendance as a litmus test for a strong marriage does not stand up: temples were few and far between, travel was difficult, and the endowment was much longer than it is today. In the nineteeth century a handful of people specifically called to work in temples did most of the ordinance work. The ritual of regular “couples” temple attendance is a twentieth century phenomenon.

    In my view, the rhetorical emphasis on temple attendance follows two curves: the temple building curve, and the divorce curve. This means today’s rhetoric is as probably as strong as it has ever been. Thinking about our historical situatedness may temper our urge to derive universals.

  13. Eric Russell on July 12, 2005 at 11:24 am

    I interpret “desire� in a much broader sense. In this sense, if you go or do something, most likely it is because you desired to – even if the motives for such a desire are “because I have to or feel obligated to.� The only way you could go to the temple not having desired to, in this sense, is to be literally bound up and carried in.

    It is, obviously, better to do the right thing for the right reason than for the wrong reason. But a fundamental desire to do the right thing for whatever reason is essential. And lacking that fundamental desire is certainly a spiritual warning sign.

  14. annegb on July 12, 2005 at 11:28 am

    I’ve been desperately trying to save my marriage for the last 35 years – Ashleigh Brilliant

  15. Lamonte on July 12, 2005 at 11:34 am

    Amen to Sue’s comments. An anology might be that I NEVER desire to work at the cannery on a welfare assignment. The drive there is a pain in the neck and let’s face it, canning chicken noodle soup for 4-6 hours straight is no picnic either. But I do it because ultimately it makes me feel great for having done it. And after forcing myself to do it for many years I have almost developed the attitude that I want to do it. Likewise, temple service can be enjoyable after one attends enough times to understand the importance of it – both from the perspective of the work done for others and from the perspective of the benefit derived by attending. Temple attendence would seem to help a marriage, in my opinion, only if the principles taught there were incorporated into one’s daily experience. But attending the temple as often as possible is the only way I know of to learn and understand those principles.

    I live about 30 miles from the temple and it only takes between 30 minutes to an hour and a half depending on the traffic. My hat is off to all of you who sacrifice so much more of your time to travel greater distances

  16. Daniel on July 12, 2005 at 12:18 pm

    Peripherally related, but my mission president was fond of noting that when he emphasized temple attendance more, he found that he spent a lot less time counseling people. He had received this counsel from a General Authority.

    Perhaps Gordon is really trying to drive at whether our spouses and us have a desire to have a desire to attend.

  17. Daniel on July 12, 2005 at 12:19 pm

    amendment to #16 — when he emphasized temple attendance more WHEN HE WAS A BISHOP. Sorry about that.

  18. Gordon Smith on July 12, 2005 at 12:39 pm

    Wilfried: “And I would guess there are people with a wonderful marriage without that constant desire.” My first inclination is to agree with this, but I think the fellow in the ward who sent the email has a good point, too: “They can love their spouse with what they believe is an eternal, undying love, yet that love can only continue in unity in the Lord’s presence.” If you do not desire to be in the Lord’s presence, that seems like a problem to me.

    Sue: “The appropriate way to measure spiritual health it is if we attend, not if we desire to attend.” I disagree with that. A lot of people are unable to attend — or to attend as often as they would like — but the desire says something

    Sue: “I would venture to say that many people do not necessarily enjoy the temple.” I agree with this, but isn’t that a problem? I mean, for those people.

    Jed: “Historically, temple attendance as a litmus test for a strong marriage does not stand up.” I am not sure what this has to do with it. You could be walking across the plains and still have the desire to attend the temple. I assume that at least some of the people who built the first temples in Utah were motivated by their desire to attend.

    Lamont: “I NEVER desire to work at the cannery on a welfare assignment….” I think that loving the temple is pretty easy for some and very difficult for others. Almost everything is like that. Home teaching, speaking in sacrament meeting, volunteering for an EQ move, and cannery assignments. On the other hand, if the temple is the place where we enter the presence of the Lord, it seems like it should have some priority.

  19. Geoff B on July 12, 2005 at 12:52 pm

    Gordon, I think your post makes an excellent point: there often is a correlation between a failing marriage and lack of desire to go to the temple. Whether or not this makes people feel guilty is up to them, really. There are all kinds of things I should be doing but don’t. I will never live up to the Savior’s standards completely. That’s one of the purposes of the atonement. But shouldn’t we want to be better and strive to improve ourselves, even though we always fall short? Of course we should. Do I feel guilty? Sometimes. Other times I say to myself, “the Lord will understand.” Guilt is a very useful emotion. It helps us strive to improve ourselves. At the same time, desire to go to the temple with your spouse is one way of taking stock of where you are.

  20. Wilfried on July 12, 2005 at 1:13 pm

    We’re no doubt all correct because we comment from concrete cases and then word generalizations that basically apply to those cases. But fellow readers think of other cases… When I reacted quickly with “guilt trips”, I had some of our good members in the mission field here in mind, converts, people who have been sacrificing so much for so many years in often very difficult circumstances. And then they hear, time and time again, from visiting leaders, that it’s not enough, that more needs to be done. And there comes a moment when some snap. What sense does it make that we would do everything to bring people in the Church, and then slowly depress and discourage them by what I called strategies for guilt trips? But I agree that in other cases, like Geoff B just said it, “guilt is a very useful emotion”.

  21. Jed on July 12, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    Gordon: “You could be walking across the plains and still have the desire to attend the temple. I assume that at least some of the people who built the first temples in Utah were motivated by their desire to attend.”

    You have set up the problem allong an axis of desire/not-desire, as though this continuum must exist in all generations. My point about history is that the desire to attend, in the sense of couples attending regularly, does not arise in all generations, because the prophets have not always framed the temple as a place to attend regularly (a place to marry, yes, a place to be endowed, yes, but not a place to attend regularly). I don’t see desire existing independent of the discourse swirling around us, coming down from the pulpit, in any generation.

  22. Wilfried on July 12, 2005 at 3:50 pm

    Just one more thought on this sensitive issue of interpretation of the message. Equating marriage success with desire to go to temple (i.e. as a couple) can in most, if not all cases work well for Mormon couples. But it seems a painful message to part-member families, even to the point where the Latter-day Saint partner may be undermined in his or her efforts to make the marriage work. Here comes the unnecessary guilt into play. My experience, mostly from the mission field, is that we are not sensitive enough to the varied challenges of all our brothers and sisters in difficult circumstances. We always need to nuance. That’s why I think it is safer not to suggest too quickly extra criteria or these kinds of simplistic litmus tests.

  23. Dave on July 12, 2005 at 4:06 pm

    Gordon, you are the mellowest of the T&S permabloggers and you’ve already received some negative comments on this post so it pains me to disagree, but I think using temple attendance as some sort of marriage test is a pernicious idea. It doesn’t really capture anything about whether a marriage is happy or not: to do that, just inquire whether each partner is happy and how they feel about each other.

    Instead, the temple attendance litmus test signals Mormons that they shouldn’t be happy in their marriage unless they are attending the temple. Further, I think it actually encourages a faithful Mormon who has an otherwise happy marriage to become unhappy about their marriage simply because their partner isn’t up to regular temple attendance at the present time or, for that matter, permanently.

    Here’s an alternative marriage test: “If you are inclined to be unhappy about your marriage just because your partner won’t attend the temple as often as you think they should, your marriage might be in jeopardy, but not because of anything related to temple attendance.”

  24. A Nonny Mouse on July 12, 2005 at 4:41 pm

    I agree with Dave #23(?). Differing levels of desire can make one spouse think the other is not pulling their own weight when it comes to spiritual things, and I think that kind of thinking is dangerous to the marriage.

    I talked with a wise man about sex just before I got married. He said: “One of you is going to want to have sex more often than the other.” I don’ t mean to sexualize everything, but I do think his point carries to just about every other aspect of marriage: in a marriage, there are two people, and they will have differing levels of desire to do just about everything throughout their married lives. Just because one spouse may particularly like attending the temple while the other doesn’t, doesn’t mean the marriage is in jeopardy. It means that you’re two different people who have different interests, desires and feelings about things.

    I dated someone once who told me, completely serious about this obviously research-supported-fact: “We’ll be a good couple if we squeeze the toothpaste tube in the same place!” In our LDS, post-Stephen Covey culture, where success is based on how well you can follow some N-step program, I think we should be careful not to introduce additional formulaic aphorisms with which we can judge ourselves and others, because we stand the risk of doing serious harm to already fragile relationships.

  25. Gordon Smith on July 12, 2005 at 4:47 pm

    Dave: “Gordon, you are the mellowest of the T&S permabloggers …”

    Wow! I had never thought about that. I am not sure it’s true. It may be a function of my having been absent for the past month.

    Dave: “I think using temple attendance as some sort of marriage test is a pernicious idea.”

    Now we are getting somewhere. I think you make an excellent point about the test being used against a spouse or a neighbor or a friend, but I suppose that is true of all measures of self-evaluation, isn’t it?

    A Nonny Mouse makes that exact point, and the solution is “be careful not to introduce additional formulaic aphorisms with which we can judge ourselves and others, because we stand the risk of doing serious harm to already fragile relationships.” Hmm. So how do you tell which formulaic aphorisms are part of the core set, and which ones are additional? Maybe some that you don’t use would be useful and some that you do should be disposed of.

  26. Gordon Smith on July 12, 2005 at 4:53 pm

    Re guilt, a member of a former ward stood up at testimony meeting and started, “Guilt, the gift that keeps on giving.” That still makes me laugh.

  27. Jed on July 12, 2005 at 4:59 pm

    What happened to Nate’s post on the same subject? It was going to post on it but it has disappeared before my eyes.

  28. Rosalynde Welch on July 12, 2005 at 5:02 pm

    Hold your thought, Jed; the post will be back up tomorrow.

  29. cje on July 12, 2005 at 5:04 pm

    I love the fact that I have temple marriage and that I have “taken out” my own endowment–but I do not any strong desire to do temple work for other people–I think there is a difference between wanting the blessings of the temple for yourself and providing other people with those blessings–i know it’s very selfish.

    I think the litmus test is flawed.

    It seems that wanting to annull your temple marriage would signify that a marriage is in trouble–simply attending the temple really has nothing to do with marriage but everything to do with service–well I can do my HT and get over my service guilt.

    cje

  30. greenfrog on July 12, 2005 at 5:11 pm

    They can love their spouse with what they believe is an eternal, undying love, yet that love can only continue in unity in the Lord’s presence. If that presence is shunned, then so is the marriage covenant necessarily shunned because at least one spouse does not truly have the desire to live in the only environment (kingdom of glory) in which the marriage covenant can endure beyond mortality.

    Gordon, this seems like the sort of reasoning that, if presented by a student in a class, you would challenge. My imagined “Gordon-as-law-professor” might say something like this, in response:

    Student, you seem to be positing an external and objective measure of “eternal, undying love” that is at variance with the subjective perceptions of the individual who, allegedly falsely, believes that he is feeling “eternal, undying love.” Your assertion does not appear to offer any evidence of the existence of the delta between the subjective perception and the objective measure. Rather, it appears to be based on a priori assumptions about the viability of that love in certain circumstances — “outside the presence of the Lord.” Your statement does not appear to suggest any justification for those assumptions. Moreover, your assertion appear to assume that the presence of the Lord is only available in particular geographic locations. Your statement does not appear to suggest any justification for that assumption, either.

    And that’s just the first sentence. Did I get your questioning correct? What sorts of questions might you ask about the validity of the second sentence?

  31. greenfrog on July 12, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    I botched the html tags. Sorry.

  32. Kevin Barney on July 12, 2005 at 5:34 pm

    I just wanted to cheer Wilfried’s comments about guilt trips in the church. Yes, guilt can be a useful tool, but I think we have a tendency to overuse it. Take home teaching for example. Since the obligation *never* goes away, the guilt for not fully doing it (or doing it perfectly–prepared lesson, TV turned off, with companion in tow, praying, etc.) is essentially constant. And that even though usually a majority (if not all) of your families–even the active ones–don’t really want you to come over and view it as an inconvenience or a nuisance at best.

    When we add relentlessly to the guilt load a person is carrying, we run the serious risk of adding the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and having the person just chuck the whole load altogether, lapsing into inactivity or even leaving the faith. Members of this Church are human beings, and we do not have an infinite tolerance for absorbing an ever increasing load of guilt.

  33. Guilted out on July 12, 2005 at 5:47 pm

    Amen! Here are more Mormon guilt trips–

    Make your family eternal, always strive for temple marriage (even if you joined the temple as a non-member, married to an Atheist)

    Member missionary work

    Get married, you loser singles of any age!

  34. N Miller on July 12, 2005 at 6:47 pm

    Here is a geometry lesson. (Picture how this geometry works in your mind and perhaps it will be better than my explanation)

    If you create a triangle between yourself, your spouse, and the Lord connected via faith and hope, as the couple works individually or together in trying to become closer to the Lord, they, as a couple, cannot help get closer to each other. If one works at creating a close relationship with the lord and the other does not, as a couple they will continue to get closer to each other to a point but it can only go so far. If one of the individuals in the relationship falls further away from the lord, and the other either stays the same or moves closer, their marriage will not be as close. This is not to say that we can’t have love for each other, but that we will struggle with an eternal, undying love.
    I believe we can have the feeling of love for our spouse without an eternal source inspiring us, but, if we want to be unified together with our spouse, we both need to move closer to the Lord. If not, how can we enjoy the existence in a celestial place, or as Gordon’s ward member said:

    “They can love their spouse with what they believe is an eternal, undying love, yet that love can only continue in unity in the Lord’s presence.”

    So now, let’s look at this litmus test.

    The assumption is that if one desires to attend the temple, they are likely striving at keeping their covenants which in turn assists them in their eternal progression. You can’t help but becoming closer to perfection as you follow the teaching of Christ.

    (If one is trying and desiring to get closer to the lord, they will want to go to the temple, no matter the inconvenience. This doesn’t mean that they can or will go every week, month, or whatever, but the desire is there and even if it is unpleasant for them they will feel a need to go [perhaps this is what is meant by guilt, but justify it away as you like, if you feel it, it likely exists]. Each of us needs to decide what “going to the temple often” means in our individual circumstances.)

    The next assumption is that if one does not desire to attend the temple then they are not striving to become closer to the Lord. Can you go to the temple without desiring it? I believe it is possible. What if your spouse wants to go, but you don’t. You wish not to make a big deal of it and so you go and hate the whole experience just to make her happy. I am sure this happens often. This maybe helps the marriage here and now, but has not created an eternal union.

    There can be different levels of these assumptions. But assumption 1 is that they are moving towards the lord, and assumption 2 is that they are moving away from the lord.

    OK, so, now as we look at the marriage of one desiring to attend, they are making those changes in their life that get them closer to the Lord and in turn, closer to each other. Even if the two are working at different levels trying to get closer to our Heavenly Father, they will still be getting closer together. However, if one does not desire to go to the temple, they are falling farther away from an eternal union (reference the triangle theory). Can the marriage last? I think it can and often does in the here and now. But what about the hereafter? I would suggest that the eternal aspect of the marriage is in jeopardy and therefore Gordon’s thoughts are relatively accurate.

  35. Nefareus on July 12, 2005 at 6:49 pm

    I also don’t think it is an accurate litmus test. Many people who aren’t members, or don’t have recommends have happy marriages. Many people who attend the temple have poor marriages.
    There are many things that we are encouraged to do by church leaders. Most of these help us be better people and, therefore, should help us in life….including make us better spouses or better parents or better children or better friends or better ward members, etc.
    The list is long. Prayer, scriptures, temple attendence, church attendence, HT, VT, service, obedience, charity, etc.
    I recently had some friends divorce. He apparently was citing his reason as “she isn’t a good mormon.” I was perfectly aware that she did not have much of a testimony and never had. He, however, had never been “a good mormon” himself, despite his belief in the gospel. And what, exactly, in the gospel did he think advocated him leaving his family just because his wife failed to drag him kicking and screaming to the CK by being more righteous than him?
    I had to think about my obligation. What if my husband woke up one day and said he had no testimony and no desire to be a part of the church at all. How would that change things?
    I believe he could still be a good husband and father, even without a testimony. It wouldn’t be my first choice, though. If my husband one day refused to ever go back to the temple again, I would really worry about the state of his testimony but I wouldn’t think my marriage was in trouble unless it actually was in trouble.
    I think the litmus test of a marriage would be if you are both happy and satisfied with the state of your marriage.

  36. N Miller on July 12, 2005 at 7:06 pm

    Yes, guilt is a tool, perhaps sometimes misused, but why do you feel guilt? Probably because you think (consciously or not) that they are accurate.

    If somebody says a good mormon goes to the temple often, sometimes we get all huffy puffy becuase “how dare they question my intentions and desire?” Yet, seldom does any definition of “often” follow the said statement. What happens is we start to feel guilty because we know we could go more often than we currently do. Maybe that would mean to play less video games or read less books to make time for the temple. But “hey, Halo 2 calls for me daily and I can’t give that up”, or “that new Danielle Steele novel is too intriguing to put down.”

    So if we feel guilt, maybe we are still a little selfish, which is not a godly character. Perhaps we may need to work on that a bit.

    If you don’t feel guilty, maybe you are doing what you should be doing and don’t need to go “more often”.

  37. maria on July 12, 2005 at 8:01 pm

    I want to respond to what Gordon said about what Wilfried said above (#18):
    ————-
    Wilfried: “And I would guess there are people with a wonderful marriage without that constant desire.” My first inclination is to agree with this, but I think the fellow in the ward who sent the email has a good point, too: “They can love their spouse with what they believe is an eternal, undying love, yet that love can only continue in unity in the Lord’s presence.” If you do not desire to be in the Lord’s presence, that seems like a problem to me.
    ————

    My question is: can one only show how much one wants to be in the Lord’s presence through temple attendance? Why does temple attendance have to be the only way? Considering that one’s desire to attend the temple could be affected by a whole variety of factors, your whole premise here seems pretty limiting to me.

    I feel like my husband and I both truly desire to be in the Lord’s presence, but, at the moment, I have very little desire to attend the temple. So, we seek for other opportunities to work together “in the Lord’s presence,” if you will, by truly focusing on serving others within our ward and community. True, we are not participating in sacred ordinances as a couple, but, we are doing what I am capable of/comfortable doing for the time being, and the Spirit attends our labors.

    And, my point is, in spite of me not wanting to attend the temple, my husband and I happen to think that we have a pretty great marriage. One of the things that makes it so great is that we’re both open and honest about our struggles and temptations and challenges, and we really work on trying to tackle them together. Through this process, we’re learning a lot about sacrifice and unconditional love. If that’s not preparing to live in the Lord’s presence, I honestly don’t know what is. :)

  38. maria on July 12, 2005 at 8:09 pm

    I don’t want this to come out the wrong way, so please take what I am about to say in the best possible light: Just because you have found peace and enlightenment and fulfillment in the temple, it doesn’t mean that that is how it works for everyone else. Most, if not all, of the women I am close to find parts of the temple ceremony to be very difficult.

    You could suggest that my perspective is colored this way because these women and I are just a self-selecting group, which may be somewhat true, but we’re talking RS presidents, bishop’s wives, stake president’s wives, etc. So, no, it’s not just a bunch of “crazy-feminist-liberal” women who feel that way.

    I honestly believe that you can have a very strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and of living prophets and of Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ, while at the same time be hurt/saddened by certain aspects of the temple ceremony that are a natural outgrowth of our world’s (not just the Church’s) male-dominant culture. Especially when some of those aspects directly contradict things that are currently being said in general conference by our living prophets! The temple ceremony can be a very confusing and unsettling thing for some of us.

    Just as the temple ceremony has been modified several times in the past, I believe it will be modified again in the future. I believe in the efficacy of the ordinances that take place now, and look forward to the day when I will feel more comfortable in the temple ceremony and will thus have greater desire to participate in those wonderful ordinances on a more regular basis.

  39. B on July 12, 2005 at 8:11 pm

    I doubt the usefulness of the “litmus test” as a tool for introspection. The litmus assertion is that if one spouse loses desire to attend the temple, then the marriage is in trouble. But marriage takes two. It is illogical to say that one spouse can “introspect” and alone come up with an accurate indication of the “state of the marriage,” unaffected by the other spouse’s attitude.

    Suppose A and B marry in the temple. A continues faithful, but B loses all desire to attend the temple. If A believes the litmus assertion, how can that not lead to the conclusion that B doesn’t want to be with A eternally? But perhaps B does want to be with A eternally, and plans to, but B has come to believesthat every loving couple will be inseparable in the eternities, regardless of whether they used LDS ordinances. (This is a common belief among New Order Mormons.) B doesn’t want to have their own temple marriage cancelled, but just considers it unnecessary and a waste of time to “seal” other loving couples who would be inseparable from each other regardless. A and B are both very devoted and loving toward each other. The litmus assertion would then planting needless doubts in A’s mind as to B’s commitment to the marriage. I don’t think it would be planting doubts in B’s mind as to B’s own commitment because (1) B knows B’s own commitment level, and (2) how many people who lose desire to attend the temple retain a desire to believe in faith-promoting-rumored litmus tests?

  40. annegb on July 12, 2005 at 8:42 pm

    I know personally of a couple who attended the temple often, who were mission presidents twice, and served the church their whole married in other various ways. When she died, he immediately re-married, and revealed that the marriage had been very unhappy for many, many years.

  41. gunner on July 12, 2005 at 8:56 pm

    This test reminds me of all those cheesy tests you see in woman’s magazines to see if their relationship is strong. The questions on the surface have merit, but the tests are to shallow for any true quality answer to come from it.

    so the idea of this test is good, but there are to many variables to get any result other then a pat on the back or guilt.

  42. Jonathan N on July 12, 2005 at 9:33 pm

    When I first read Gordon’s post, I thought it might be something for me to bring up this week in my lesson or one of my talks (through a schedule fluke, I’m speaking to two wards). But the more I thought about it and read the other posts, the less inclined I am to use it. I agree with Kevin that this is basically a guilt trip approach.

    The term “litmus test” in this context is an interesting use. A litmus test is a test that uses a single indicator to prompt a decision. What decision would this test prompt? Maybe a renewed dedication to attend the temple, which can’t hurt, and in that sense, it might be a litmus test (or maybe merely a guilt trip). But doesn’t it make more sense that a lost desire to attend the temple is only a litmus test of one’s commitment to temple participation? Maybe also to temple covenants, although that’s a stretch.

    Does anyone seriously think that a lost desire to attend the temple, by itself, really means one’s marriage is in trouble? The only situation I can think of where it might be a litmus test for marriage is where one partner wants to go to the temple and the other doesn’t; but then any disparity in desires would be such a litmus test.

    The fallacy of the litmus test as described by Gordon’s ward member is equating temple attendance with being in the Lord’s presence. The implication is that one is not in the Lord’s presence outside the temple. Yet don’t most of us feel the Lord’s presence wherever we are when we seek it? Especially in our homes? At best, the temple facilitates us feeling His presence because our thoughts are focused, but it seems superstitious to suggest that merely being in the temple is being in His presence.

    I’m reminded of Matthew 12:6, which seems to contradict the idea that the Lord is only in the temple. Jesus told the Pharisees that “in this place is one greater than the temple,” referring to Himself. Maybe a better litmus test is whether we feel the Lord’s presence in our daily lives than whether we have a desire to go to the temple.

  43. maria on July 12, 2005 at 9:50 pm

    You make my point much better than me, Jonathan N.

  44. Katie on July 12, 2005 at 10:17 pm

    I loved your comments Maria, you make two great points.

    The first is yes, there are other ways, as you and Jonathan N. argue, to be in the presence of the Lord. Your doing of service may very well get you closer to Christ than going to the temple would. As pointed out earlier temple attendance in the early church was rare, since temples were so far away. I would bet these Saints made up for it in the way they served and dedicated their lives to the gospel. Furthermore, when reading the scriptures it seems as though Christ was out among the people, far more than he was sitting around contemplating the mysteries. Service is far more important than ritual.

    Secondly, you and your friends are not alone in feeling upset about the portrayal of women in the temple. My friends and I have also had to do some soul searching to try to find peace with what seems like a rather mixed message (the disparity lies as you say in what you hear in the endowment and what you hear at say General Conference). While I have gained a peace about the temple (please take a look at comments 68-73 here:http://www.splendidsun.com/wp/index.php/2005/03/29/82 ), it does damper my desire to go the temple.

    Yet I still make time to go. And so I do hesitantly agree that temple attendence in a little way can function as litmus test. I go not because I desire it, but because it is commanded. If I do not go I am having an obedience issue. It is the same issue if I was not obeying the WOW or going to church. It does not mean my marriage is not a successful one, but it does mean there is a chink in my spiritual armor. It is a litmus test not of marriage but of faith-and what tries faith more than doing the thing you do not desire, but still must, do?

  45. Jack on July 12, 2005 at 10:58 pm

    Why is that joint-ownership of the universe is not enough for feminists? Please be assured, you can have your cosmic cake and eat it too.

  46. Katie on July 12, 2005 at 11:42 pm

    The temple ceremony implies that the man shall claim the universe, while the woman will claim the man. I prefer my cake whole Jack, not regurgitated.

  47. tjohnson on July 13, 2005 at 12:42 am

    The comment I liked best was #24. My wife and kids have been out of town for the past week, and in the last few days I’ve felt a loss of caring about everything — except for my wife and two children. I think, therefore, that Absence is the best litmus test. If you feel a continual relief when she’s gone, you’re in trouble. But if you feel like the sky could darken and someone could graffiti your driveway and you stop mowing your lawn and don’t comb your hair anymore because you don’t care — meaning, you do not care because the only thing you cared about is gone — then I think you’re in good shape. In sum, if you’re not sure about your marriage, take a vacation from it. You’ll know exactly how to rate it after one week.

    Regarding the whole temple variable, I do not understand the importance of the temple as much as I feel I should. I’ve always interpreted it as being a carryover from 19th century culture — not the principles and covenants, but the form in which they are expressed. They have never spoken to me in the way general authorities convey that temples should. Of course this may be my own fault, not the form of worship.

  48. Seth Rogers on July 13, 2005 at 12:42 am

    Katie, in a perfect reality is this distinction even meaningful?

  49. Jack on July 13, 2005 at 12:53 am

    Inspite of some of the good that has come about because of feminism, I must say that, at times, I have zero tolerance for some of it’s ideologies. I find it absolutely astonishing that we would determine the worth of our most sacred doctrines and ordinances by virtue of how they measure up against a feminist standard.

  50. Gordon Smith on July 13, 2005 at 12:58 am

    I am a little short on time tonight, so I don’t have time to deal with all of the excellent comments, but I enjoyed reading greenfrog’s portrayal of me as a law professor (#30), and that started me thinking about the “presence of the Lord.” Maria, Jonathan, and Katie continued this theme.

    Some of the comments seem to have this flavor: if you are a good person, you will go to heaven. While I can’t speak definitively for the member who wrote the email, I have a hunch that he would respond along these lines: being a good person is not enough; you also need priesthood ordinances, and that’s why we go to the temple.

    Yes, that’s why we go to the temple for our own endowments and sealings, but what about repeat visits? Why claim that repeat visits to the temple are necessary — or even more useful than other forms of service — for entering into the presence of the Lord? Are we allowed to enter the Lord’s presence only in the temple?

    I have always understood that “entering into the presence of the Lord” was something distinct from having a spiritual experience or feeling that my life was on track. Under this view, “entering into the presence of the Lord” is not something we do from time to time, but rather the culmination of a life well led, and one purpose of the temple is to provide instruction about how to lead such a life.

  51. Sister Anonymous on July 13, 2005 at 3:23 am

    annegb (#14), now that’s the tone I need, for my little impossible project. you give me smiles.

    dan barnes (#10) okay. i could see how some people could abuse attending the temple as a way of avoiding relationship problems. but it’s also about being a person who is at fault and is still admitted to the presence of the Lord, through the atonement. And there’s a certain universalist hope that undergirds the worship, (despite the TR gatekeeping) that we desire all to receive God and his highest blessings–and that is helpful. If you can hope for that in general and believe redemption happens, you can relate even to a specific person–not that God redeems him into someone else, but know that God finds him acceptable now, why don’t you.

    And he’s away on another business trip, #47, and it is pleasant and I am comfortable, very much more comfortable, without him around.

  52. Geoff B on July 13, 2005 at 5:32 am

    Without going into specifics that are not appropriate outside the temple, I believe Katie (#46) has managed to completely misunderstand the message of the endowment ceremony. Everything is based on joint growth and joint ownership. The emphasis is on men and women who are married growing together and relying on each other’s strengths to help out the other’s weaknesses. Men and women make a complete whole and indeed cannot progress without the other.

  53. Brett on July 13, 2005 at 9:21 am

    Geoff B-
    I’m a man and even I can see that some of the language in the temple implies that women are subjected to men. It was even more strongly implied before the 1990 endownment change. I think your interpretation of the temple is great, but its only your interpreation. If the emphasis is only on men and women who are married growing together, where does that leave single men and women? Are they left out of the temple ceremony? I’m sure some might feel that way, but I think most find a place for themselves in the endownment. They pray, ponder, and meditate to findout how they fit into the ceremony. That’s the great thing about the temple. There’s no book saying “this means that and that means this” nor do we get lessons telling us the symbolism of each thing, so mostly were left to personal revelation to find answers from God directly. I don’t think you have any right telling people they have “managed to completely misunderstand the message of the endownment” because you’re implying that YOUR interpreation is the correct one.

  54. Rosalynde Welch on July 13, 2005 at 9:29 am

    Jack, you know (I hope) that I almost always enjoy your contributions, but I think it’s mean-spirited and below you to ridicule Katie, particularly when she has shared her struggles sincerely and has affirmed her commitment to temple worship as it stands. A little compassion might go a long way for her.

    On the larger question, the wildly varying interpretations of the endowment expressed in this thread suggest the inadequacy of temple worship as it is now practiced as a substitute for the fuller sort of instruction in the highest matters the Saints once received (re: Nate’s claim in the above thread). (I happen to think Geoff B. is offering a slightly wishfu and disingenuousl–if appealing–version.)

  55. Katie on July 13, 2005 at 10:03 am

    Jack said: “I find it absolutely astonishing that we would determine the worth of our most sacred doctrines and ordinances by virtue of how they measure up against a feminist standard.”

    Geoff said: Without going into specifics that are not appropriate outside the temple, I believe Katie (#46) has managed to completely misunderstand the message of the endowment ceremony

    It did not say anything about the worth of the whole endowment. And I do not think the whole endowment is about gender. What I said is that there are a few parts that make me uncomfortable, and even these I have come to a peace with. As to the rest of the endowment I find it very powerful and rich in meaning. I disagree with Geoff that the ceremony is only about married people. I do see that, but as Brett mentions, what then are single people supposed to get our of their endowment?

    The endowment is a sacred ceremony, but it is a living entity, just as the church is. If the church is immune to feminism as Jack wishes, why did the ceremony change in 1990 to include more women-friendly dialogue? The Lord cannot change the meaning He is trying to convey (the place of gender in a fallen world), but apparently He does change the wording meant to convey it.

    Thanks Rosalynde.

  56. N Miller on July 13, 2005 at 12:04 pm

    “The endowment is a sacred ceremony, but it is a living entity, just as the church is. ”

    And because it is a living entity, we look forward to the change that we don’t know will come.

    Perhaps we ought to go to the temple more often to figure it out, whether we like to go or not. Prophets have told us that after years of going to the temple they are just figuring it out.

    To contradict some of the anecdotal evidence that women have a hard time with the temple ceremony, let me give some of my own.

    Having been in the temple endowment many many times, there has only been twice that the men in the room outnumbered the women (and therefore more women go more often than men). You might wonder how I would know that or remember that. I have obssessive compulsive tendancies – I don’t call myself mental, but maybe some of you might, but I am always counting rows and people in the temple. I found it interesting the two times that there were more men than women and have locked it in my head. there have been numerous times where it was close, but more often than not, women out-attend the temple than men.

    If this is the case then it could be inferred that either women don’t see it as a men vs. women ceremony, or they are sincerely trying to find out what God wants of them through the temple ceremony. Perhaps there could be other explanations.

  57. Catherine on July 13, 2005 at 12:45 pm

    I just wanted to comment on the statment “more often than not, women out-attend the temple than men.

    If this is the case then it could be inferred that either women don’t see it as a men vs. women ceremony, or they are sincerely trying to find out what God wants of them through the temple ceremony. Perhaps there could be other explanations. ”

    I go to the temple regularly and see the same thing…usually more women than men. But I also happen to know many of the women personally and know they have some of the same struggles as Katie and other have mentioned. So do I. I wouldn’t say that those of us with those struggles and questions see the ceremony as men vs. women; not at all, but we confused. Some of us go anyway for many reasons, but I don’t think that noting that there are more women than men means that most woman don’t struggle with some parts of the endowment.

  58. N Miller on July 13, 2005 at 12:56 pm

    Then why is it that you go? I suggested that one explanation is that they have a desire to go to find out more of what God wants from them.

    Anecdotally, I know many of the women as well and more often than not they are praising the temple ordinances and ceremonies.
    No doubt that there are some out there that don’t share their thoughts openly, but either the ones I talk to our either hypocrites or are telling me the truth.

    My guess is that if you struggle with temple, you talk with people with similar sentiments. If you enjoy the temple, you talk more with the same. Birds of a feather, flock together. It’s too bad.

  59. Elisabeth on July 13, 2005 at 2:09 pm

    Hate to jump in with a snarky comment, but it could be, N. Miller, that these women just don’t feel comfortable sharing their true feelings about the temple with you. That doesn’t make them hypocrites, just wary of unsympathetic ears.

  60. Catherine on July 13, 2005 at 2:11 pm

    One could also say that women may not tell men (unless it is thier husbands) about different struggles they’ve had regarding the endowment. It’s also not as black and white as praising vs. not praising, there is a whole spectrum there of learning and appreciating and yes, sometimes having issues. I go for many positive reasons, even though I have to wonder at some things and do strugge with certain aspects…as do many women. My “birds of a feather” are generally folks that also attend fairly regularly, not those who do or do not enjoy the temple. You can enjoy the temple and still have issues and questions.

  61. N Miller on July 13, 2005 at 3:08 pm

    Elisabeth –
    If a person says they enjoy the temple in public, but inside they don’t care for it, then yes, they are hypocrites. If they don’t feel comfortable talking about it with me, then they shouldn’t say anything at all or at least something neutral. Lying doesn’t help either side.

    Catherine – I never stated that they didn’t attend, just that maybe sub-groups of attendees flock together. As stated, however, this is all anecdotal. My point of view, perception, whatever. But in saying that, I would suggest that it is true on your side as well.

    In any case, if they are going to the temple because they feel a need to go, then, going back to the original discussion, they are helping themselves and if married, their marriage as well.

  62. Jack on July 13, 2005 at 3:25 pm

    Rosalynde,

    I feel highly complimented that you would enjoy ANY of my contributions. And just for the record, yes it probably is a little (just a little) below me to ridicule another person–not so when it comes to mean-spiritedness. That’s something I need to work on.

    Katie, I do owe you an apology. Sorry for my harshness.

    I read too much into your comments. My response was a knee-jerk reaction to the notion that one may feel justified–because of a feminist ideology–in looking away from herself for a possible solution to the problem of being out of sorts with the temple ceremony (which I feel is a legitimate concern). I recognize that you are struggling to make peace with those aspects of the ceremony that trouble you–which is a heck of a lot more than I’m doing. I have an (almost) aversion to temple worship and I don’t think that’s likely to change before I leave this life.

  63. Sue M on July 13, 2005 at 5:51 pm

    A few years ago I taught a Relief Society TFOT lesson about the temple. In response to some long forgotten question, one of the sisters burst into tears (quite suddenly), and shared her discomfort with the temple, and basically said what a terrible person she must be not to have the same beautiful experience everyone else described. She said that after years of avoiding the temple, she recommitted herself to regular temple attendance and had been attending monthly in hopes of gaining greater understanding and having a better experience. It wasn’t working very well for her. She continued to beat herself up, and several sisters chimed in with support and admissions that they also had a difficult time with temple worship, suggestions for getting more out of it, etc. We moved on with the lesson, but after the lesson, a crowd of 8 or 9 women huddled around her, all whispering together. Perhaps they were supporting her, perhaps they were identifying with her, I’m not sure. It may be that more women have difficulty with the temple than we know of, but it is not ususally socially acceptable to admit it. It is supposed to be the pinnacle of sacred experiences. We talk about the beauty and the sacredness of the temple even before we go through for the first time. We are taught to look forward to the experiences we will have inside. With all of that, who wants to be the person to admit they don’t get anything out of it? After all, most people automatically assume something must be wrong in your life if you do not enjoy the temple. My discomfort is not solely for feminist reasons, there are other things that make me uncomfortable. But I’m rambling now, sorry.

  64. N Miller on July 13, 2005 at 6:26 pm

    Sue M.

    To me there is no doubt that some women in the church find the temple discomforting. I know all to well as my mother left the church because of it. Unfortunate to say the least. But I continue to wonder why she did not like it. I have tried to understand where it makes somebody uncomfortable. If the temple is truly a celestial place here on earth, and the ceremonies are truly accurate (changing the ordinances are not evidence of accuracy or lack thereof), what then is the reason for this supposed difficulty?

  65. Melinda on July 13, 2005 at 6:55 pm

    I’m also uncomfortable attending the temple, for various reasons. For about 12 years, I attended almost every week. Then I started struggling with depression. I fled to the temple for peace, and one week I had the worst depressive meltdown I’d ever had right in the middle of an endowment ceremony. It was triggered by some of the stuff referred to by other female posters that they struggle with. I’ve since balanced out on medication, but that experience still bothers me. Is the spirit of the Lord so weak it can’t punch through a minor chemical imbalance to provide peace to someone seeking it?

    Anyway, since then, I’ve had a hard time considering the temple a place of refuge or even peace. It’s a crapshoot whether I’m going to have a good experience or not, so I often avoid attending unless I know I’m already doing well enough that the temple can’t negatively affect my mood or feelings of self-worth. I know it’s my own fault.

    And N Miller, I do vary my answers about enjoying the temple based on who I’m talking to. If it’s a sympathetic ear who may provide help, I tell them how I feel about it now. If it’s someone like you, I emphasize the positive experiences I had in the temple before depression. I’ve had both good and bad experiences, so I can give either answer without being a hypocrite. :)

  66. N Miller on July 13, 2005 at 7:13 pm

    Some one like me? What is that supposed to mean? Who is to say I can’t help? Perhaps that is part of the problem, people don’t know who they can talk about these things.

  67. Kristine on July 13, 2005 at 8:01 pm

    Sue, I’ve had nearly identical experiences in RS in more than one ward–as soon as one woman is willing to be honest about her experience, the floodgates open. You don’t have to self-identify as a feminist to notice and be troubled by the inconsistencies about women’s roles that are starkly apparent in the temple.

  68. maria on July 13, 2005 at 8:09 pm

    N Miller:

    If you were to make comments like you made in 56, 58, 61 (especially the “hypocrite” part), I would probably not think that you were trying to “help” someone like me or Katie or others like us.

  69. maria on July 13, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks for that succint point, Kristine.

    Re: Jack’s comment (49): “I find it absolutely astonishing that we would determine the worth of our most sacred doctrines and ordinances by virtue of how they measure up against a feminist standard.”

    Jack, I have to tell you, I honestly don’t feel like my biggest issues with the temple ceremony have to do with mingling the “doctrines of women” with sacred ordinances. :) Rather, the most disconcerting part for me is what Kristine started to discuss–that so much of what is said/represented in the temple is in direct contradiction to what we’re taught in general conference. And I don’t think what is being said in General Conference is a “feminist standard.” :)

    GC: You have infinite worth. You have been endowed with divine agency, the power to make righteous decisions for yourself and for your family. Women should participate in the gospel at the same level as their husbands. Women play an important part in the functioning of homes, wards, and the institutional church. Husbands, listen to your wives–they are wise! Counsel with your wives! You are co-partners, co-equals!

    TC: Do what your husbands tell you to do! And, on top of that, don’t speak, don’t act, don’t do anything at all, really! Maybe if you repent, you’ll get to follow your husbands around like puppy dogs for all of mortality. But, don’t think about participating in the stuff that your husband does! Just stand there, and look cute, and everything will turn out alright.

    So, my question is, how does a woman reconcile these conflicting messages? I promise I’m not trying to stir up contention or to make anyone uncomfortable here. Honestly, if there is a woman out there who is reading this and has come to some sort of peace about the contradiction I’ve described above, I would LOVE to hear what she had to say about it. It absolutely kills me and tears at my heart and keeps me up late at night (often) that I don’t love the temple ceremony in the way that so many other people say they do. I really want to love it, to embrace, to desire to go back every week. I have a strong testimony of the ordinances there–I know they are real and that I am sealed to my husband and parents for all of eternity. But, despite that, every time I attend a temple session, I literally feel like I am going to vomit. I get panicky, and worried, and weepy, and filled with confusion and discontent. I walk away from the temple not having been enlightened or uplifted, but nauseaus and cranky and depressed. I’ve prayed and fasted before attending, and that hasn’t really helped either.

    Any advice that anyone has on this topic would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

  70. A. Greenwood on July 13, 2005 at 8:55 pm

    I don’t think its accurate to characterize the temple that way or think it inconsistent with the messages in General Conference. There are a number of reasons one might. One of them is the influence of secular ideas about gender, widespread enough and deep enough now that they are almost prejudices. Its difficult not to think that way.

    If this is your case, then you’re finding that no one can serve two masters and the strain of trying to do so is unbearable. It may not be your case, and even if it were probably the best thing to do is to find someone who had your dilemma and resolved it. I’m not that person, so the only other thing I can counsel is to query your own assumptions. What about the temple makes you sick? What are the premises and assumptions you have that make it not make sense to you? Why are you certain that those premises and assumptions are accurate? If secular prejudices are what’s causing you discomfort, you might be able to discover and expose them.

  71. A. Greenwood on July 13, 2005 at 9:07 pm

    The stories about the women all reacting the same way when some brave sister finally dared to speak the truth reminds me of an anecdote shared by an Albanian scholar of some repute (Albanians tend to be pro-American). He was at a banquet in Paris some time after 9-11. Several speakers before him railed against America–the usual stuff. They were applauded enthusiastically. He got up to speak and flung it all back in their faces. America was a great country. It had saved Europe, and now it was saving the world. Attacks against America were despicable and ungrateful. He was applauded enthusiastically.

    The point, I think, is that (1) people tend to go along with whatever seems to be the predominant tone around them [some of you Mormon women haters think this uniquely a characteristic of them, but it ain’t] and (2) people are complex beings with a wide range of reactions to things. When one of their reactions has gone unspoken for a while, there’s a rush of excitement and community building that comes out of acknowledging it. This suggests that discomfort with temple teachings on gender is by no means the dominant reaction of most women in the church. It does suggest, however, that there needs to be more opportunities for folks to try and talk through what the temple is teaching about gender relations. Especially since the secular world’s framework for thinking about these things is not very helpful at all and because the public pronouncements of our church leaders, while not inconsistent with the temple, are couched in the language that the world can understand.

  72. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 9:09 pm

    “Honestly, if there is a woman out there who is reading this and has come to some sort of peace about the contradiction I’ve described above, I would LOVE to hear what she had to say about it.”

    That would be me!

    To start, I think your your ‘TC’ summary is a real misreading of the endowment, however, I am firmly in the camp of whoever-it-was back there who said that we don’t have the right to interpret the endowment for others, so I am not going to tell you that you are misreading it (grin).

    My summary would be thus: (and some will note that I am totally cribbing from Hugh Nibley’s Patriarchy and Matriarchy available here:

    http://farms.byu.edu/display.php?table=transcripts&id=151 )

    After the Fall, Adam and Eve are placed into a mutually dependant relationship so that they can help each other return to God. Eve is to follow Adam (but only so long as Adam is following the Lord). This way, any weaknesses Eve has that Adam doesn’t will be overcome. Now, note that she is only following him as he follows the Lord. How does she know this? She judges him. This way, weaknesses Adam has that Eve doesn’t will be overcome (“I’m sorry, honey, but our FHE will not be provided by the NFL. I will not follow you in this. C’mon kids, we’re going in the other room to have FHE.”) There is a nice mutual interdependence here between Adam’s presiding and Eve’s judging. Neither is ‘above’ the other, both work together but in different roles to help each other.

    An obvious question is why Eve’s judging role isn’t emphasized more. I have no idea, save cultural bias, which doesn’t seem really satisfying as a solution.

    I think I mentioned somewhere else that I went to the Temple early on with HUGE (almost-Church-leaving) feminist issues and felt that I received (1) from the endowment itself and (2) from specific answers to specific prayers that let me know that everything is OK.

    I love going to the Temple as a feminist. I wish when nonmembers challenged me about being a feminist and a Mormon I could share most of the endowment with them to explain why these terms are not mutually exclusive! (There are a few very small things about the endowment that bug my inner feminist. I feel comfortable chalking these up to the non-eternal, non-essential, earth-bound, changeable, product-of-mere-humans aspects of the endowment.)

    I hope this helps. If any of you are near Houston or San Antonio, I’d love to go to the Temple with you.

  73. Jack on July 13, 2005 at 9:28 pm

    “You have infinite worth. You have been endowed with divine agency, the power to make righteous decisions for yourself and for your family. Women should participate in the gospel at the same level as their husbands. Women play an important part in the functioning of homes, wards, and the institutional church. Husbands, listen to your wives–they are wise! Counsel with your wives! You are co-partners, co-equals!”

    True!

    ———————————————————-

    “Do what your husbands tell you to do!”

    What does Adam tell Eve to do?

    ———————————————–

    “And, on top of that, don’t speak, don’t act, don’t do anything at all, really! Maybe if you repent, you’ll get to follow your husbands around like puppy dogs for all of mortality.”

    Doing what? What wonderful and exciting things is Adam doing that would cause Eve to feel excluded?

    ————————————————————————————————————————————-

    “But, don’t think about participating in the stuff that your husband does! Just stand there, and look cute, and everything will turn out alright.”

    Don’t participate? But you are participating. You are doing the things that Adam and Eve do. That’s why there are pauses in the film–to allow time for *all* to participate.

    ——————————————————————————————-

    I wonder if transfering the theatrical portions of the endowment to film/audio has caused a disconnect in the minds of the patrons in terms of how they sense their participation in the ordinance. And speaking of temple ordinances, there is not one ordinance or promise that men receive, but what, women receive them as well–except perhaps, receiving the priesthood by proxy which really isn’t a temple ordinance in the first place.

  74. gary on July 13, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    Although I am not a woman, I am quite uncomfortable with the way the role of women is depicted in the Temple. It is inconsistent with the way my marriage works. It feels strange to be with my wife in that context. I can certainly understand why many women react so negatively.

    Quite apart from that issue, I must confess that I just don’t “get” the Temple. My experiences there range from the mildly negative to the mildly positive. Usually it does nothing for me. I don’t get inspired, I don’t feel enlightened, I see nothing profound and I don’t come away feeling closer to God or understanding better my relationship to him. I still don’t know what the endowment really is and what it means. I don’t really have any idea what it means to be sealed. I don’t think my lack of understanding is the result of lack of effort on my part. But maybe it is, and maybe the Lord has some great new insight to give me the next time I go and I will then retract everything I just said.

    Call me obtuse if you want, but don’t tell me I am a bad guy for not getting it, and please don’t go telling me and others like me that this means that my marriage is in trouble. As litmus tests for a good marriage go, this one would rank a long way down my list of reliable tests.

  75. A. Greenwood on July 13, 2005 at 9:31 pm

    In #70 I describe what I’m saying as second best and what someone like Julie in A. has to say as first best. So listen to Julie.

  76. Jack on July 13, 2005 at 10:07 pm

    gary,

    I hear you. I too am frustrated with not “getting it”. However, one of the things I think I’m beginning to understand (get) is that the endowment is not necessarily about depicting the ideal marraige. It’s about depicting what men and women must do in order to receive further light and knowledge. And when it comes right down to it, there is very little difference between what the two must do respectively.

  77. Rosalynde Welch on July 13, 2005 at 10:17 pm

    Julie, every time you make this argument I really, really want to believe it—but I think it’s a hard sell. (And I apologize if I’ve already raised this objection in the past and you’ve already responded.) For one thing, it requires one to construe the phrase “as he follows the Lord” to mean “when he follows the Lord”—that is, conditionally—but I think it makes a lot more sense and is more consistent with the overarching paradigm of the endowment to construe the phrase “in the same way that he follows the Lord”—that is, unconditionally. That just seems a lot more likely to me. Furthermore, and I’ve said this before, I think encouraging wives to judge their husbands can set up a really negative and mutually destructive marital dynamic, one I’ve seen up close.

    Although I’m no expert, it seems to me that the specific character of the marriage relationship described in the endowment is firmly situated in a whole complex of doctrine centered around polygamy. The ideal family relationship promoted in the church now bears almost no resemblance to the structure or doctrine of polygamy, and thus the troubling inconsistency Maria notes. Which model is most correct? Darned if I know. Neither, perhaps.

    But the specific character of the marriage relationship is just one aspect of the endowment, and I enjoy the feeling of connection to the early Saints—and indeed, to initiates of sacral rites the world over, and throughout history—that the forms of the endowment as a whole provide. I see it as a way to step out of the modern world for a moment, to have a uniquely transhistorical experience. For Gary, I’d suggest some anthropological research in sacred (esoteric) rites in traditional cultures—contextualizing the forms and features of the endowment can shed a lot of light on its ritual function.

  78. maria on July 13, 2005 at 10:21 pm

    Thanks, Julie. I really wish I lived near you.

  79. Kristine on July 13, 2005 at 10:23 pm

    Adam, I’m sorry if I implied that all women dislike the temple and said so when someone let them in RS. Let me say it clearly, with numbers: I’ve been present in three Relief Society classes in which one sister acknowledged that she didn’t like some aspect of the temple ceremony or the process of temple worship. On each occasion, several (4-7) other women followed the first point by expressing their own discomfort/dismay/unease. In no case was this the majority opinion expressed. My point was not that all Mormon women dislike the temple, or that admitting that one doesn’t like it is brave, only that more women are uncomfortable than one might expect, and that women of many ideological stripes are bothered by various aspects of the temple ceremony. I imagine plenty of men are uneasy about it too. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing; since God’s ways are not ours, it seems pretty likely that the glimpses we get of God’s ways will be, *should* be, quite disconcerting.

  80. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 10:28 pm

    No, Rosalynde, I don’t think we’ve gone over this before.

    First, I had never considered your parsing of the phrase in question. However, I think that other statements by prophets (everything from BY’s famous “I never asked a woman to follow her husband to the devil.” to

    “No woman has ever been asked by the Church authorities to follow her husband into an evil pit. She is to follow him as he follows and obeys the Savior of the world, but in deciding this, she should always be sure she is fair.
    –President Spencer W. Kimball

    . . . so to parse the phrase to suggest that a woman should unconditionally follow her husband is contrary to the counsel of modern prophets and, therefore, not a legitimate reading (hearing?) of the phrase.

    Your statement, “Furthermore, and I’ve said this before, I think encouraging wives to judge their husbands can set up a really negative and mutually destructive marital dynamic, one I’ve seen up close.”

    Of course this is true. But the same could be said about presiding! The fact that people can and do mess up is no reason to toss out the ideal. It is certainly a difficult thing to judge righteously, as it is difficult to preside righteously, but that in no way lessens our need to do these things.

    I know virtually nothing about how the endowment has changed over time (I wasn’t even endowed until after 1990) and while I think it makes intuitive sense that the endowment would be rooted in a polygamous understanding, I think as it stands it is remarkably free of polygamous overtones. (There’s no Lillith lurking in the background . . .)

    RW, I stand by my original statement that we don’t have the right to interpret the endowment for others but at the same time, if I thought the endowment taught that I had to unconditionally obey my husband, I would hate going to the Temple. Not because I am a feminist, but because that is false doctrine.

  81. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 10:30 pm

    That SWK quote is from Spencer W. Kimball, “The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, 70f, if anyone wanted to know.

  82. Mark B. on July 13, 2005 at 10:36 pm

    Julie,

    I think that the changes in the endowment about 1990 (if my memory is any good at all) support the points you’re making in your #80–the “as he follows” does seem to me to be conditional (and I’ve always felt that any leadership in my home is surely dependent upon my following the Lord, otherwise, “amen to the priesthood or authority of that man.”

  83. gary on July 13, 2005 at 10:40 pm

    Julie: Could you explain your reasons for concluding that the endowment teaches that Eve judges Adam? Are saying that since she is to follow him when he obeys the Lord, that she must decide when he is obeying and when he is not, or is there something more to your argument?

  84. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 10:45 pm

    gary–

    You hit the nail on the head. If she is only to follow him when he is following the Lord, then she has to decide in each case if he is following the Lord. That’s all I mean by judging. I think the SWK quote (“. . . in deciding this . . .”) supports this idea of judging.

  85. Rosalynde Welch on July 13, 2005 at 10:46 pm

    Julie, maybe “unconditional” isn’t quite the word I’m looking for. A man obeys the Lord because it is only through the Lord that he approaches God; in the same way, a woman obeys her husband because it is only through her husband that she approaches God. Specific rituals in the endowment enact this. I’m not saying I love this paradigm, but I think it’s more consistent with the undergirding early doctrine.

    I love President Kimball’s quote, but I think it’s entirely (and entirely naturally) geared toward our present-day ideal of high-affect monogamy—and thus, as I said above, based on a model that differs significantly from the model that prevailed with the endowment was developed.

    I guess I’m just a lot more removed from the endowment than some women: I made the covenants full-heartedly, and I keep them, and I believe they’re necessary for exaltation. But I think it’s the making of an agreement with God, and the faithful governing of one’s life by that agreement, rather than the specific forms in which that agreement is couched, that is the most sacred part of the endowment. As I said, I actually do enjoy the endowment as an exercise in transhistorical experience.

  86. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 10:56 pm

    Rosalynde, I think you’ve shifted ground now. First we were talking about how and when Eve follows Adam, now I think you’re working on the making of covenants and access to God.

    Unfortunately, I cannot say what I would to you if we were whispering in the celestial room while our children climbed all over our husbands at some other location. I will just say that I have found it useful to bracket everything that happens after the Fall as reflecting, well, fallen mortality, and NOT the heavenly order of things. I would be deeply disturbed by the suggestion (which I do not find) that in the eternities Eve accesses God through Adam but I have no problem with that idea having root in the fallen world.

    One of the nicest comments about the Temple I ever heard in RS was along these lines: women and men are separated during the endowment, but not in the celestial room. There is no gender divide there.

  87. Jim F. on July 13, 2005 at 10:59 pm

    Off-topic, but not unrelated comment: given the possibility of this thread becoming a flame war and of people attacking each other or hurting each others feelings, as we’ve seen happen in the past when we’ve discussed difficult topics, I’m astounded to see the degree to which that hasn’t happened. We should pat each other on the backs for this.

  88. Kaimi on July 13, 2005 at 11:08 pm

    Julie,

    I’m intrigued by your conditional reading, but not yet completely convinced.

    As a New Testament person, you’ve probably noticed the similarities between those lines and the formulation in Ephesians 5. Do you see Ephesians 5 as conditional as well? (As well as the later similar language in Colosians).

    Is there a Pauline aspect to these lines?

  89. Rosalynde Welch on July 13, 2005 at 11:15 pm

    Julie, it seems to me that the narrative and the movement, as in all ritual, mutually reinforce each other: we approach the Lord *as* Adam or Eve. So what happens in the Adam & Eve story explains the ritual movements.

    Let me be clear: I really like what you’ve made from the endowment, and I think it entirely possible that, in the present day, yours is a correct interpretation. Maybe the endowment, like the Constitution, is a living text that can govern a variety of social scenarios. But it does require you to write off a few (and arguably crucial) points as historical artifact, and it’s not clear to me that the endowment itself sanctions that; also, it’s a little convenient to be able to dismiss what we don’t like as mere history (and I do this all the time, so I’m implicating myself here, too!). In the end, I prefer to understand the endowment as an entire experience in the context in which it was developed, and understand also that our present-day context is different, and that a celestial context will likely be different still.

  90. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 11:18 pm

    Kaimi–

    It never occured to me to compare that language with Ephesians, probably because:

    (1) the context of Ephesians is as a ‘household code,’ meaning a statement (known from sources besides the NT as well) that sets out the duties of various members of the household. Because the temple language doesn’t deal with children, slaves, etc., I don’t think they are in the same league. And, because the temple language doesn’t really set out any duties of Adam’s, either.

    (2) Eph. has ‘submit’ which, as you probably could have guessed based on #80 above, is not a word that I think has much to do with Eve and Adam’s relationship.

    I don’t see the household codes as conditional, but neither am I tempted to take them very seriously when they conflict with what modern prophets teach.

    I have to admit that I am very surprised that there are people who don’t read this phrase the same way I do. I think the ‘unconditional following’ is completely indefensible. I’m not trying to fan the flames that Jim just complimented us for avoiding, but when modern prophets are teaching something entirely different, what would recommend this reading?

  91. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 11:21 pm

    RW–

    I’m not sure exactly what you are claiming that I am dismissing as historical artifact; perhaps you are avoiding specificity out of a (well-placed) sense of propriety.

  92. Rosalynde Welch on July 13, 2005 at 11:25 pm

    Julie, don’t you dare accuse me of propriety! You know me better than that! :)

    I was just referring to this statement: “bracket everything that happens after the Fall as reflecting, well, fallen mortality, and NOT the heavenly order of things.”

  93. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 11:31 pm

    RW–

    Ah, now I see where you are going with this. At least, I think I do. Then let me just say that I am not going to throw out (1) my own personal revelation on this question, which I realize holds no water for you or for anyone else reading and (2) my sense that 99% of the endowment is very affirming to the best vision of feminism for the sake of one line. It seems to make more sense to me to treat that as a throw-away line (yes! I just said that about the endowment!), a cultural artifact, than to dismiss the rest of the endowment or to see it as self-contradictory.

    I don’t think I articulated the full sense of that comment in RS that I liked: the person was making the point that the Temple teaches us virtually nothing about the celestial kingdom. (i.e., we aren’t told what to do or how to act or how to relate to each other in the celestial room)

  94. Julie in Austin on July 13, 2005 at 11:34 pm

    Correction to above: we are told to be quiet in the celestial room. As the mother of three young boys, this encapsulates everything that I hope and dream heaven is.

  95. JKS on July 13, 2005 at 11:55 pm

    I was under the opinion that Adam followed Eve, when presented with the fruit. Doesn’t the temple teach us that?

    Does anyone else feel like their marriage is an “us” time of thing? That was are trying to be “one”? That we work together? I have no problem sharing our money. Its ours. We share our children. Does it really matter all that much, when ideally we are partners of one marriage?
    Sure, if one of us doesn’t make it to the CK, the other hopes they will. But, that is not my concern in my case. I don’t know if dh is good enough to make it, or if I am. I hope we both do. All I know is that we are sharing our lives. We are in our marriage together. Raising children together. Trying to live the gospel together.
    Whose idea is “right”, his or mine, does it really matter? It matters that we listen to each other, respect each other, and make good decisions together. Who comes up with the best idea, isn’t the most important thing. We aren’t keeping score.
    And, honestly, when life is really, really hard, gender role issues are the farthest thing from my mind. There are times when I have said, “I don’t know what to do. I’ve prayed, you’ve prayed, but I have no answer. If you think we should do this, then ok, I’ll go along with that.” And there are times that my husband has said, “I trust you. You know what you are talking about, so if you think we should do that, then that’s what we should do.”
    A husband who truly understands the gospel, who loves and respects his wife, wouldn’t ever really issue a command. And a wife who loves and respects her husband, and who believes he is following the Lord, wouldn’t ever feel she was “disobeying.”

    So, Maria, that is the best that I can do to explain my feelings. I wish I could be more clear with teh written word, but I am afraid that is the best I can do. I have no problem. I see no real contradiction if both partners treat each other as equals and love the Lord. The GC advise helps us to live the TC procedure without having a real problem with it.

  96. Eric Russell on July 13, 2005 at 11:56 pm

    I think it would be valuable to remember (or know) that the entire phrase in question is a 1990 construct. I don’t believe that that fact weakens the statement or should cause us to reinterpret the ceremony, but the fact that it is not a part of the original does suggest caution in the way we approach it and to what sources we attribute it.

    In 53 Brett said to Geoff, “I think your interpretation of the temple is great, but its only your interpreation” and later says, “I don’t think you have any right telling people they have “managed to completely misunderstand the message of the endownment” because you’re implying that YOUR interpreation is the correct one.”

    I agree with Brett. However, it goes both ways. In order to be offended by the endowment, you have to assume that your interpretation is the correct one. This, as Brett argues, is nearly impossible. As such, it’s quite silly to be put-off by the endowment. Particularly if you believe that the ceremony makes normative claims and implications that contradict gospel principles. There is a great deal of symbolism in the endowment and much that we do not understand.

  97. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 12:01 am

    Eric, as someone who in the past struggled greatly with the endowment, I want you to know that telling people that they are “quite silly” is not going to be helpful.

  98. Eric Russell on July 14, 2005 at 12:12 am

    Julie,

    I think you’re right. I should have realized people will take it out of context, exactly as you have. Let me rephrase it this way: if people have the right to struggle about the ceremony, then if follows logically that Geoff has the right to tell them they have wholly misinterpreted it.

  99. gary on July 14, 2005 at 12:16 am

    Julie: If Eve follows Adam only when he follows the Lord, and if she determines when Adam follows the Lord and when he does not, isn’t Adam (and the commandment to follow him) superfluous? Why not simply require Eve and Adam to each follow the Lord? What does the requirement to follow Adam add to the picture?

  100. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 12:19 am

    gary–

    As I stated in #72, the judging (by Eve) and presiding (by Adam) create a system of interdependency that ideally will help both of them overcome their weaknesses. What i didn’t mention is that it gives each of them a chance to exercise a kind of power and learn to do so righteously.

  101. Katie on July 14, 2005 at 12:26 am

    At the Splendid Sun I posted a comment on how I made peace with the endowment after my first experience was much like Maria described, with the desire to vomit, weep, and hide all at once. I will post it here as well, in hope that it might help those who are struggling, and to also get some feedback on what others think. It kind of elaborates on Julie’s idea that the gender set-up in the temple is one of a fallen world only and not the eternities.

    That the man-God/woman-man issue was a product of the fall made a lot of sense, but it just didn’t seem to fit with it being a upwards fall. But as I thought about it, things became more clear. The man-God/woman-man relationship is set up in the telestial world after Adam and Eve have fallen. It is not a prescriptive effect, just a descriptive one. In other words it is not a punishment to Eve for doing the wrong thing, just a description of the consequence of entering a fallen world. I think one of the greatest effects of the fall, was that gender roles were entirely screwed up. Men would harken to their carnal desire for domination and the women would bear the brunt of it. In a fallen world men would never be able to handle women having the priesthood, it would not be a mortal possibility. I think Eve knew this, she knew it would happen. But she knew that mortality would bring far more blessings and in the end it would be worth it. If my hypothesis is right, her choice to fall was even more heroic. She gave up the equal status she enjoyed in the garden. (the Hebrew words that are translated “helpmeet” could also mean a “strength or power equal to.” hmmm). At first blush it seems unfair that the fall meant that women would have a somewhat “second class” status but when we think that the fall also brought rape, murder, incest, genocide, ect., we can see it is just another horrible effect we must deal with and try to make right. Anyway, so the man-God/woman-man relationship happens in the telestial room, but by the time you get to the veil gender differences are gone. Men and women approach and enter the celestial room in identical ways and in the celestial room are free to mingle with each other instead of being segregated. Like Julie I find that part particularly profound-in the celestial world the gender rift has been healed. (Equally profound is that when we are done we exit back out of separate doors-back to the real world!) If all I have said is correct, then couples who work towards equality here, who counsel together, who respect each as equals, are not feminists, but are in fact building towards a celestial life in the greatest way possible. We battle each day to overcome the effects of the Fall, to rein in our carnal natures–does this not extend to gender relationships as well? We should be fighting for celestial equality now, fighting against the effects of the fall to the greatest extent possible in this mortal life.

    This to me explains why there seems to be a disparity between the TC and the GC. Just as the fallen world is full of lying and stealing and hurt and the general authorities counsel us how to overcome these things, so too the fallen world is full of gender rifts, and the general authorities counsel us on how to overcome this fall effect as well. Yes gender inequality shows up in the endowment, but hey so does Satan, but that does not mean either has to have a role in our lives.

    So there it is-my personal revelation on why the temple need not be offensive. And of course as my personal revelation, it will not work for everybody!

  102. Robert on July 14, 2005 at 1:40 am

    “. . . a legitimate reading (hearing?) of the phrase.”

    Julie, I have always understood the phrase “as he follows the Lord” as you do. Your interpretation provides a more profound paradigm in which to see it, though, so thank you for that.

    I’ve wondered how my understanding of the endowment is shaped by it being a dramatic presentation rather than a written text. Visual presentation can be very effective in teaching, but it can be difficult, for me at least, to separate the message and the medium. When I consider the teachings of the endowment, I usually associate them with specific faces, voices, delivery and even music. Does this limit my interpretive options? I guess it’s nice that Adam and Eve (of the temple film) are attractive, but must they be so emotionally bland and their delivery so flat? I can certainly imagine other possibilities for the endowment drama. The current presentations seem to focus on the archetypal nature of the drama and the cast; a different presentation could, with the same text, emphasize the players’ humanity (at least that of the mortal characters). Perhaps an unscripted glance, expression, or hesitation by Eve at the moment in question–something that shows the difficulty in her decision–would make her commitment all the more moving. I think it would for me.

  103. Elisabeth on July 14, 2005 at 8:02 am

    I love reading the exchanges between Julie and Rosalynde on the interpretation of gender roles in the endowment. Seems to me that Julie’s interpretation reflects the need of many women to move beyond the history of a man’s clear right to rule over women to a develop a more modern approach to gender roles and relationships – where the women claim an equal right to participate and be heard by God.

    I think Julie’s interpretation resonates with many women, because the traditional gender roles in the temple are disturbing to many members of the Church. Unless we find a way to reconcile our modern experience, and the words of our modern day prophets, the temple becomes a jarring reminder that women and men were not separate entities until modern times, and that women were seen as a man’s property.

    However, Rosalynde points out that history, and the words and procedures in the temple don’t easily lend themselves to a modern-day interpretation of gender roles and relationships. I find the tension here fascinating, because it relates to how we approach our history, and its violence, racial discrimination, and, of course, polygamy. In a previous post, Rosalynde and others discussed the difficulty many members and church leaders have in discussing our polygamous past. Many of us want to ignore polygamy, and some proclaim that it is not “doctrinal”, even though Section 132 of the D&C is in full force and effect.

    I’m not offering any solutions or new interpretations of the temple ceremony, but as I was falling asleep last night, I was struck by how real the conflict is between our need to understand certain tenets of our religion in a way that makes us feel comfortable, and our need to be true to our history and to what our words and actions in the temple truly mean.

  104. Stephen M (Ethesis) on July 14, 2005 at 8:19 am

    Sure, if one of us doesn’t make it to the CK, the other hopes they will. But, that is not my concern in my case. I don’t know if dh is good enough to make it, or if I am. I hope we both do. All I know is that we are sharing our lives. We are in our marriage together. Raising children together. Trying to live the gospel together.
    Whose idea is “right”, his or mine, does it really matter? It matters that we listen to each other, respect each other, and make good decisions together. Who comes up with the best idea, isn’t the most important thing. We aren’t keeping score.
    And, honestly, when life is really, really hard, gender role issues are the farthest thing from my mind. There are times when I have said, “I don’t know what to do. I’ve prayed, you’ve prayed, but I have no answer. If you think we should do this, then ok, I’ll go along with that.” And there are times that my husband has said, “I trust you. You know what you are talking about, so if you think we should do that, then that’s what we should do.”

    I enjoyed that.

    I think we often take too much from descriptions of the results of the fall and read them into what “should be,” rather than what is.

    I don’t think that sorrow, hardship and pain and loss are what “should be” and that they are the core of the Celestial Kingdom. I don’t even read desciptions of the terrestrial world as being big on the briars and thorns part of things.

    And, I think of looking at some things as being a part of the fallen world tells us that they are part of what we will need to learn to escape.

    Which is the message that the post I quoted above really captures at its heart — the escape from the fallen state and back to the grace and love of God and each other.

  105. maria on July 14, 2005 at 9:26 am

    Katie, thanks for your comments in #101. They are helpful to me.

  106. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 10:26 am

    I think I’m going to take issue with Julie in A. for a second. She sees the temple ceremony as telling Eve to sit in judgment on Adam, following his counsel when she thinks he’s relaying the father’s counsel. The alternative, as she sees it, is to think that Eve is to follow Adam no matter what. ‘Go jump off a bridge, hag.’ ‘Yes, my lord and master.’

    The temple does neither. It sets up an ideal relationship. Ideally, Adam follows God and Eve follows Adam, or, put another way, the relationship between Adam and Eve is to parallel the relationship between Adam and God. It doesn’t tell us anything about how to act when the ideal isn’t met, i.e, when Adam isn’t perfectly following God, which turns out to be pretty much 100% of the cases. I don’t think either of Julie in A.’s alternatives is entirely satisfactory, though I think her’s is much nearer the right one. I do think that none of these alternatives, or my alternative either, is found in the temple ceremony. I think we have to admit that we’re reading in our preferred model of fallen gender relations into the ceremony instead of finding them there.

  107. Rosalynde Welch on July 14, 2005 at 10:47 am

    Adam, if I understand your position correctly, I think you actually share my interpretation of the endowment: Adam obeys God *in the same way* that Eve obeys Adam. The endowment (and the supporting doctrines) seem to set up a salvific hierarchy, with God at top, then Christ, then Adam, then Eve: the goal is to approach God, and each level of the hierarchy accomplishes that by means of a saving relationship with the level immediately above.

    But now I’m going to take issue with you for a second: I think this set-up *is* found in the endowment. I don’t think the endowment is as flexible as you suggest, although, as I’ve said above, I don’t think it’s the specific character of the marriage relationship presented that matters as much as the fact of making covenants, keeping them, and realizing that all salvation is communal. And for what it’s worth, my interpretation of the endowment differs significantly from my preferred model of gender relations. For reasons I’ve described above, though, I still make and keep the covenants, and even enjoy temple attendance.

  108. Rosalynde Welch on July 14, 2005 at 10:53 am

    Also let me add that I do not in any way begrudge Julie or Katie or anyone else their interpretations, and if it would bring peace to someone I knew, I would even recommend it myself. I think we all share the same goal: we want women to love the endowment and temple worship, and we also want them to understand their own spiritual worth and competence.

  109. Jed on July 14, 2005 at 11:22 am

    Rosalynde, Adam, Julie, Katie, and others: Why don’t you all set up your own list-serve to discuss the finer points of the endowment? Better yet meet at the temple of your choice and have a pow-wow on a soft couch with rays of light streaming down on a whispered and measured conversation. Personally I love the free flow of ideas in the context of faith shown here. The dialogue, as Jim F. pointed out, is remarkably civil. But isn’t there a better forum? The candor is making me fidget in my chair, and since I am not easily inclined toward fidgeting, I cannot believe I am the only one out there who feels this way.

  110. Rosalynde Welch on July 14, 2005 at 11:32 am

    Jed, I’m sorry if I’ve crossed a line. Please email me and let me know what you think goes too far (the last thing I want to do is profane sacred things), and I’ll take it down. Better yet, email another permablogger, since I’ll be leaving the computer now and won’t be back for the rest of the day.

    Apologies all, if I’ve been indiscreet.

  111. maria on July 14, 2005 at 11:48 am

    Jed,

    Since we all live in different states, I’m not sure there is a better forum.

    Katie’s comments made me feel more hopeful than I have in a long time. I’m very grateful that she, and the others (regardless of what stance they have taken), are willing to speak candidly. I personally don’t think any inappropriate lines have been crossed. But I respect your opinion regardless, and I apologize if we’ve made you feel uncomfortable. That is not anyone’s intent, I’m sure.

  112. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 11:54 am

    Rosalynde Welch,

    I think I agree with your understanding. The relationship of the Lord to the ideal disciple is the model for the relationship of husband to wife. But, because, the Lord doesn’t do wrong or counsel badly, there’s nothing in that model that tells us how a wife is supposed to act when her husband does wrong or counsels badly (as will always be the case). So while I believe that the endowment shows us the kind of relations we are supposed to try and achieve in this fallen world, it doesn’t show us how to get there or what to do when one partner fails.

  113. Katie on July 14, 2005 at 12:02 pm

    I am glad my comments gave you some hope Maria. These are a couple of quotes that J. Stapley posted that were the catalyst for my comments. To me they clearly teach that while right now our relationship to God somehow goes through our husband, eternally we will be queens TO HIM.

    John Taylor JD 1:37
    Have you forgot who you are, and what your object is? Have you forgot that you profess to be Saints of the Most High God, clothed upon with the Holy Priesthood? Have you forgot that you are aiming to become Kings and Priests to the Lord, and Queens and Priestesses to Him?

    John Taylor JD 5:189-190(emphasis added)
    What are we engaged in? We are engaged in building up the kingdom of God, and many of you have been ordained by the revelations of the Almighty to hold the power and authority of the Holy Priesthood. Besides this, you have been ordained kings and queens, and priests and priestesses to your Lord; you have been put in possession of principles that all the kings, potentates, and powers upon the earth are entirely ignorant of: they do not understand it; but you have received this from the hands of God.

  114. Geoff B on July 14, 2005 at 1:02 pm

    I’ve gotta agree with Jed (#109). I’m feeling fidgity about this discussion (yet I keep on reading it!!!). To answer Rosalynde, I’m not sure where the line should be drawn. Hugh Nibley, who loved the temple more than just about anybody I know, has given many more details than anybody is here in his public writings. So, I’m not about to accuse anybody of doing anything improper. I just wanted to point out that it does make me feel a bit uncomfortable. My personal rule is to discuss temple ceremonies in the broadest of terms, but again, that’s just me.

  115. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 1:11 pm

    Adam–

    i am more sympathetic to your thoughts in #106 than you might imagine. i agree wwith you that in general the church teaches the ideal and doesn’t spend much time on what to do when circumstances depart from the ideal (such as a husband presiding unrighteously). I believe Elder Packer has made several comments about the idea that the Church teaches the ideal. So I find it even more striking that the temple tells us what to do when that ideal isn’t met.

    I think what you may be reacting to and disagreeing is revealed by your choice of words: Eve ‘sits in judgement of Adam.’ I agree that this sounds harsh. Perhaps that is because you are perceiving what we might call unrighteous judgement, a nice parallel to unrighteous dominion. Maybe we could agree with President Kimball that the wife ‘decides’ whether he is following the Lord. In an ideal home, this means that *every time* the wife follows the husband, she has affirmatively decided to do so. I like this because it gets us out of thinking of LDS women as passive types and into seeing them as actively supporting their husbands as they follow them in righteous decisions. When we talk about Eve judging/deciding about what Adam is doing, it is probably more useful to focus on the 99% of the time when she decides that he is correct.

    You wrote, “Ideally, Adam follows God and Eve follows Adam, or, put another way, the relationship between Adam and Eve is to parallel the relationship between Adam and God.”

    Yes, ideally. However, the parallel breaks down (all analogies eventually breaks down) because God will never preside unrighteously over Adam while there is the theoretical possibility that Adam will over Eve. Hence the need for Eve to decide/judge.

    I realize that you are not completely dismissing what I am saying, but I do wonder what you do wit the Pres. Kimball quote if you cannot stomach the idea of Eve deciding when to follow Adam?

    RW in #107–I think you are reading Ephesians 5 into the Temple ceremony, which I don’t like for the reasons stated above. To the extent that you may be correct, I would, again, attribute it to the order of the fallen world and not to any eternal scheme.

    Jed wrote in #109: “The candor is making me fidget in my chair, and since I am not easily inclined toward fidgeting, I cannot believe I am the only one out there who feels this way.”

    Sorry, Jed, and I genuinely mean that. At the same time, I have tried to be very careful to only be specific about things that are in print elsewhere. But I second RW’s idea: if there is something specific you want edited, email me.

    Ah, now that I made it to Adam’s #112, I see you’ve taken up with RW what I mention in this post. Again, I couldn’t support your position that ‘there’s nothing in here for when the ideal isn’t met’ without dismissing what President Kimball (and BY, and others) have said about Eve’s decision-making role. Your thoughts?

    To clarify: I think some may be reacting against a worldly vision of what ‘judging’ is, the same way that many women (rightfully) react against the world’s corruption of the concept of presiding. I think Eve’s judging, played out in a real LDS home might look something like this:

    (Husband dashes around, getting late for work. He’s heading toward the door.)

    Wife: Should we have a prayer before you go?

    Husband: Oh, yeah. Thanks for reminding me. Jimmy, will you say the prayer today?

  116. DavidH on July 14, 2005 at 1:21 pm

    I will simply point out that in Alma 5:38, the phrase “hearken to the voice of the good shepherd” is translated into Spanish as “escuchais la voz del buen pastor.” (I don’t know how to do accent marks.) This is consistent with the American Heritage definition of hearken as “to listen attentively, give heed”. [“Heed”, in turn, is defined as “close attention; notice.”]

  117. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 1:22 pm

    Well, aside from hinting at the endowment’s manner of presentation, the converstaion–from an objective point of view–is about the “garden story”. It’s right out of the scriptures.

  118. Melinda on July 14, 2005 at 1:23 pm

    Katie’s comment #101 put into words a concept I’ve been groping towards. I’ve noticed that Eve’s role is restricted to tagging after Adam after they enter the fallen world, while she was a full participant before. Katie, thanks for how well you explained that.

    I do believe there is plenty of room for women in the patriarchal order. Church leadership is slowly yet surely allowing women into that area, and counseling with and listening to women more often. I’m encouraged by that.

    I still don’t fully understand the salvific hierarchy – where a woman follows her husband as her husband follows God. I would think they would be encouraged to walk side by side, instead of single file, in following God. The ceremony suggests that this hierarchy is an eternal one, not restricted to this fallen world.

    And while I understand Jed’s comment, I have to admit that I’m thrilled to be able to listen in on this conversation. It’s an immeasurable help to be able to discuss these issues, rather than be told to just pray about it more. Thanks all.

  119. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 1:33 pm

    “I still don’t fully understand the salvific hierarchy – where a woman follows her husband as her husband follows God. I would think they would be encouraged to walk side by side, instead of single file, in following God.”

    Let’s not forget about all of the things that Adam and Eve are *exactly* the same in after the Fall. I won’t go into specifics, but think through the endowment for many, many examples of this.

    “The ceremony suggests that this hierarchy is an eternal one, not restricted to this fallen world.”

    See my #93 above.

  120. Travis on July 14, 2005 at 1:39 pm

    Re comments #106, 107, 112 of Adam G. and Rosalynde –

    I actually see you as agreeing (unintentionally) with Julie in A. You acknowledge that Adam often (if not almost always) fails to perfectly follow God. When Adam doesn’t perfectly follow God, what is Eve to do? Logically, there are _only_ two real options: (1) follow Adam always–even when he’s wrong or (2) follow Adam when he’s right and don’t follow Adam when he’s wrong.

    (I guess there’s another option–don’t follow Adam, even when he’s right–but let’s dismiss that one without argument).

    Unles you are arguing that option (1) is correct, by default you agree that Eve is forced to make a judgment for herself, right? This is the essence of Julie in A’s comment (with which, I confess, I agree).

    Also, I view Eve’s responsibility to judge for herself whether Adam’s counsel is correct as identical to her responsibility to correctly judge all sources of alleged truth–i.e., the scriptures, the counsel of her Bishop, this Sunday’s Sacrament meeting speaker, etc., etc. In all cases, Eve must judge for herself what is right and what is wrong. I think we can be confused about what’s going on here by imagining Eve with her journal keeping notes on whether or not Adam is righteous and trying to figure out at what point she doesn’t have to listen to him anymore. That’s not what’s really happening.

  121. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 2:00 pm

    Travis, there are other options, or other ways of stating the options.

    Julie in A., I don’t think the the quotes you refer to cover the ground exhaustively. More importantly, I see them as statements of how we sexes are to relate to each other but not necessarily statements of what the temple ceremony says. My position has been all along that your view of sex relations is tenable but that the endowment simply has nothing to say about it. I don’t see how we could resolve this without gettting into specifics, so I’ll only say that I believe we’re disagreeing over an ‘as’ that you see as clearly meaning ‘to the extent that’ or ‘so long as’ but that I see as more ambiguous.

  122. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 2:12 pm

    “More importantly, I see them as statements of how we sexes are to relate to each other but not necessarily statements of what the temple ceremony says.”

    I’m not sure how to read this except for: Pes. Kimball is saying something that contradicts the Temple ceremony.

    “I’ll only say that I believe we’re disagreeing over an ‘as’ that you see as clearly meaning ‘to the extent that’ or ’so long as’ but that I see as more ambiguous.”

    This seems to be the same thing that you are saying to Travis; so what *are* those other options?

  123. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 2:23 pm

    Julie,

    I think Eph. 5 & Hosea 2 are built on the idea that the Savior is the bridegroom regardless of how those passages were originally intended to be received. Paul’s likening the husband and wife relationship to the Savior’s relationship with His people ought to give us some insight as to what’s going on in the Adam and Eve story.

    I find it interesting that the Savior’s body–His church, His bride–consists of both men and women alike. We find the same lack of distinction in Hosea ch 2 wherein the whole of Israel is likened unto the Lord’s betrothed. With that in mind, I find myself asking the question: in what ways are we to emulate Adam and Eve–otherwise known as “many” and the “mother of all living”? What begins to emerge is a simile of greater things.

  124. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 2:31 pm

    “I’m not sure how to read this except for: Pes. Kimball is saying something that contradicts the Temple ceremony. ”

    Nope. As I’ve repeated in several different comments, I don’t think the temple ceremony tells us anything at all about what to do when men aren’t doing what they ought. When Pte. Kimball addresses the issue, he’s no more contradicting the temple ceremony than I would be if I were to talk about baptism or just war theory.

    As for the ‘as,’ I don’t think it has different meanings that suggest different models of what women are supposed to do if they have imperfect husbands. I think it has different meanings that leave this question unaddressed.

  125. Travis on July 14, 2005 at 2:37 pm

    Adam – I don’t understand your reluctance to describe these other meanings/options. Is there some reason you feel it’s not appropriate to elaborate? Or are you just trying to hog all the cool insights?

  126. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 2:43 pm

    Sorry, Mr. T. It’s because I feel strongly that your two alternatives aren’t it but I only have a vague glimpse of what the other alternative is. I’m not ready to formulate it.

  127. Travis on July 14, 2005 at 2:57 pm

    Fair enough.

  128. Todd Lundell on July 14, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    I have really enjoyed this conversation and appreciate that it is occurring in this forum, otherwise many of us “lurkers” would be excluded. Just a few questions that I would like to hear more about from the commentors:

    Julie in A. you say “I would be deeply disturbed by the suggestion (which I do not find) that in the eternities Eve accesses God through Adam but I have no problem with that idea having root in the fallen world.”

    I am not sure why that idea should be more palatable in this world than in the eternities. Can you explain? I have a couple of guesses, but I would like to hear what you think.

    Adam – “It sets up an ideal relationship. Ideally, Adam follows God and Eve follows Adam, or, put another way, the relationship between Adam and Eve is to parallel the relationship between Adam and God.”

    What about the relationship between Eve and God? And what of Adam’s relationship to Eve (as opposed to Eve’s relationship to Adam)? Does the endowment tell us nothing about that?

    And if you say that the relationship between Adam and Even is to parallel the relationship betwen Adam and God, how is that not saying anything about the relationship between the sexes (#121)?

  129. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 3:16 pm

    Todd writes, “Julie in A. you say “I would be deeply disturbed by the suggestion (which I do not find) that in the eternities Eve accesses God through Adam but I have no problem with that idea having root in the fallen world.”

    I am not sure why that idea should be more palatable in this world than in the eternities. Can you explain? I have a couple of guesses, but I would like to hear what you think.”

    Because this is a fallen world, and I can put up with all sorts of less-than-ideal things here as part or the mortal experience. As I mentioned above, I think the presiding and judging roles will ideally help Adam and Eve help each other to overcome their weaknesses. Once perfected and unified, there would simply be no need for them to do these things.

  130. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    I think we have to give the endowment a little more breathing space. All to often we try to constrict it into something that will fit in the tiny compartment of our limited understanding and experience. The endowment is given to the “initiated”. IMO this means that those receiving it (ideally) have already proved their willingness to follow the Lord. They already have promised, by virtue of baptism (as per Mosiah ch 18), to live the commandments, to be pure, to seek the Kingdom of God before all else.

    So what’s going on then? No one can say for sure, but my guess is that we’re being prepared to receive greater things. And if so, the story of the fall cannot simply be reduced to how men and women are supposed to behave toward one another. Ideally, when husbands and wives (or soon to be) receive their endowment, they already know what their relationship consists of. They both have chosen a partner that they can love, cherish, honor and respect. How could we expect anything less from anyone who has already committed themselves to the Lord?

    I prefer to view the endowment as (among other things) a metaphor, which if explored with the aid of heaven, will lead to the unfolding of greater things. Who among us believes the garden story to be literal? Do we believe that Eve was really one of Adam’s ribs? No! So why do we jump to conclusions about Adam and Eve’s relationship which was solidified in the very same metaphorical enviroment?

  131. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 3:32 pm

    If I may venture,

    “This, however, is simply figurative so far as the man and women are concerned”

  132. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 3:33 pm

    “What about the relationship between Eve and God? ”

    Eve’s relationship to Adam is part of her relationship to God. It’s done at his command. And, of course, further light and knowledge is given to the two of them by heavenly messengers, though Adam and Eve take different roles in this.

    ‘And if you say that the relationship between Adam and Eve is to parallel the relationship betwen Adam and God, how is that not saying anything about the relationship between the sexes?’

    Because God does not err or sin, my relationship to him only tells me how my wife should act to me when I’m acting well. When I’m acting badly, the temple ceremony provides no precedents.

  133. Todd Lundell on July 14, 2005 at 3:36 pm

    Julie,

    Yes it’s a fallen world, but is the fact that the relationship between Eve and God is no longer direct a necessary or purposeful result of that fall? In other words, I like your idea that the “the presiding and judging roles will ideally help Adam and Eve help each other to overcome their weaknesses,” but why isn’t there reciprocity in the relationship? Even in a fallen world, why is it that Adam should not also follow Eve as she follows God – making both directly related to God through each other?

    I guess it is at this point that your interpretation of the endowment (as I understand it) leaves something missing for me, even as it relates to the fallen world.

  134. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 3:37 pm

    Jack,
    I believe the garden story literally. Not the touchstone of my faith, but there it is.

  135. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    “Even in a fallen world, why is it that Adam should not also follow Eve as she follows God – making both directly related to God through each other?”

    How would this be possible? If we’re tossing a coin, I can’t both let my wife call it in the air and she let me.

  136. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 3:42 pm

    Todd asks, “why isn’t there reciprocity in the relationship? Even in a fallen world, why is it that Adam should not also follow Eve as she follows God – making both directly related to God through each other?”

    I dunno. I didn’t come up with the plan, I’m just supposed to follow it. It seems that God also could have given women the priesthood and had men deliver every other baby, but he didn’t. There appears to be a preference for husbands and wives to take on different but complimentary roles that encourage interdependence. I can think of benefits to this, but that would be a digression.

  137. Todd Lundell on July 14, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    Adam,

    “Because God does not err or sin, my relationship to him only tells me how my wife should act to me when I’m acting well. When I’m acting badly, the temple ceremony provides no precedents.”

    Assume God has a choice between two different methods of accomplishing the same goal, both equally good. When God makes a decision, Adam follows. Period. Indeed, in such situations God is the decisionmaker, or at least he gets to decide whether or not to be the decisionmaker. Are you saying the temple endowment encourages women to necessarily follow their husbands in all decisions that are made when “I’m acting well”? Or are obligations contingent on a necessary “right and wrong” to the decision?

    Your interpretation of the “as Adam follows God” phrase seems to leave a lot of discretion in the hands of Adam, none in the hands of Eve for all decisions that might be deemed “good” or even “neutral.”

  138. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 3:54 pm

    “I believe the garden story literally. Not the touchstone of my faith, but there it is.”

    Adam, it is your priviledge to hold to that belief. I won’t argue against it. But as it relates to this thread, my guess is that it is at (or near) the root of the problems causing disagreement–and I mean that in the context of a fair game.

  139. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 3:56 pm

    Todd Lundell,
    When choices are neutral, does God always make the decision for Adam?

  140. Jim F. on July 14, 2005 at 4:00 pm

    Adam: “I believe the garden story literally.”

    Which one? We have four versions of it, three in scripture and one in the temple, with not insignificant differences between them. Also, the phrase Jack quoted was part of the temple ritual until 1990 or so, though it seemed to me to refer only to the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib rather than the story as a whole. In any case, if you believe the Garden story literally, what do you do with that part of the ceremony, put there and approved by prophets, even if later removed?

    Another way to get at the same issue: what do you mean by “literally”?

  141. Adam Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 4:02 pm

    I believe that the garden stories refer to actual events, in part, and are not just metaphor and myth.

  142. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 4:06 pm

    Todd,

    Even though I find myself a little outside of this debate because of my wacky quasi-metaphysical views on a metaphorical approach to the endowment, I think you’re a little off in terms of logic.

    In order to support your claims one has to assume that you view God as some sort of menacing greek mythological character ready to through a thunderbolt down on one’s head at the slightest provocation. How often does God get in our face and tell us what to do? If Adam were to seek to emulate God’s ways of doing things, I think he would be open to 99.99% of Eve’s way of doing things so long as it is within the context of the covenant they *both* have made.

  143. Todd Lundell on July 14, 2005 at 4:06 pm

    Julie (#136) – “I didn’t come up with the plan, I’m just supposed to follow it.” That’s a fair answer, but the question is whether in interpreting that plan we should imply a reciprocal relationship (as some people seem to do). Or should we infer that there is none b/c the temple doesn’t explicitly tell us there is? Does the temple endowment paint the entire picture, or are there gaps to be filled in by inferences consistent with modern counsel?

    I am also still uncomfortable with the fact that your interpretation displaces Eve’s relationship to God, but that may be a necessary interpretation of the endowment. If so, your right that we are “just supposed to follow.” But I am not entirely convinced.

  144. Jim F. on July 14, 2005 at 4:08 pm

    Adam (#141): I doubt that many/any in this discussion think that the stories are only metaphor and myth. As I assume you agree, actual events often have symbolic or religious meaning. The story of Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection is the best example. So “literally true” and “metaphorically or mythically true” are not mutually exclusive.

    Note, also, that in scholarly discussions of myth, the word “myth” does not mean “untrue or unhistorical stories.”

  145. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 4:17 pm

    “… “literally true” and “metaphorically or mythically true” are not mutually exclusive.”

    That’s where I’m at with it.

    I, too, believe in real events happening in the garden story, but as to my ability to comprehend how they actually played out, well that’s a different story…

  146. Todd Lundell on July 14, 2005 at 4:18 pm

    Adam – “When choices are neutral, does God always make the decision for Adam? ”

    Nope, but I think he sometimes does. And he certainly gets to decide when to do so and when not to do so. He doesn’t do so arbitrarily of course, but he gets a lot of discretion in that regard. You (or perhaps the endowment, if your interpretation is correct) gives all that discretion to Adam, none to Eve. That’s my only point, but I think it’s a major one.

    Jack – I don’t think God throws thunderbolts, except when absolutely necessary (and I have narrowly dodged a few). And I should point out that I am merely thinking (outloud) about the implications of Adam’s interpretation of the endowment, which I am not sure is mine. The point is that, if I understand correctly, according to that interpretation, Eve must follow Adam so long as what Adam is doing is not “bad.” But that leaves Eve following Adam in decisions that I would classify as “neutral.” Yes, Adam could decide to allow Eve to make the decision, but that is still Adam’s perogative. That fact seems significant to me, and one that I think it probably inconsistent with modern counsel.

  147. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 4:21 pm

    Re #131–

    Can anyone with propriety tell me to what the word ‘this’ is referring?

    Todd in #143 wrote, “Or should we infer that there is none b/c the temple doesn’t explicitly tell us there is?”

    I still maintain that the temple does teach reciprocity through the idea (as stated by Pres. Kimball) that Eve is only following Adam as he is following the Lord (with ‘as’ meaning ‘only so long as’).

    “I am also still uncomfortable with the fact that your interpretation displaces Eve’s relationship to God, but that may be a necessary interpretation of the endowment.”

    I’m just not clear on what you are saying that *I* am saying here about displacing the relationship. Rephrase please.

  148. A. Greenwood on July 14, 2005 at 4:24 pm

    #144. Agreed. Though I think calling something ‘just myth’ does imply that.

    #146 “Nope, but I think he sometimes does. And he certainly gets to decide when to do so and when not to do so. He doesn’t do so arbitrarily of course, but he gets a lot of discretion in that regard. You (or perhaps the endowment, if your interpretation is correct) gives all that discretion to Adam, none to Eve.”

    1. A marriage in which the husband make the discretionary decisions would not be a relationship like God has with us.

    2. If God does not make neutral choices for us ‘abitrarily,’ then I suggest that the choices were not neutral.

  149. Todd Lundell on July 14, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    Julie, I only mean that as you stated in #86 in the fallen world Eve only has access to God through Adam, not directly. I assume her relationship with God prior to the fall was direct, thus it was “displaced.” Even in a fallen world, I am not sure the purpose (or reality) behind such displacement.

  150. Steve Evans on July 14, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    J in A: “It seems that God also could have given women the priesthood and had men deliver every other baby, but he didn’t.”

    Julie, please tell me that you are not setting up the priesthood vs. babies dichotomy!

  151. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    Todd,

    I understand that you’re merely thinking out loud. I would have put a smiley face in my comment somewhere to soften things up a bit had not Jim F. just entered the conversation. (he hates those things) ;>)

    Well, you may be right Adam’s “prerogative”, but remember that God has the “prerogative” to throw a thunderbolt down on Adam’s head for abusing his prerogative.

  152. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    Oops!

    You may be right *about* Adam’s prerogative…

  153. Jack on July 14, 2005 at 4:37 pm

    Julie,

    re “this” Jim F. in comment #140 says he believes it to refer to Eve created from one of Adam’s ribs. I’ve often wondered, though, If it might have meant more than that.

  154. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 5:35 pm

    Todd wrote, “Even in a fallen world, I am not sure the purpose (or reality) behind such displacement.”

    Fair question. I think the problem is that I don’t see the *relationship* (or access, as you put it) as being displaced. (Is there any hint in the Church that, for example, a woman should not pray but rather should ask her husband to ask/tell God something for her? Of course not.) It is the *line of authority* only that is at issue. That’s the reality issue. As far as purpose goes, again, I’m back to the idea that they can help each other overcome weaknesses and become more unified this way than they could as two completely independent actors.

    #150–of course not. I just needed a few examples of things women do versus things men do and there just aren’t that many of them (wicked grin)

  155. Todd Lundell on July 14, 2005 at 5:53 pm

    Julie, actually “access” was your word, not mine (#86). And it was that word particularly that made me uncomfortable – fallen world or not. It’s much less discomforting for the “line of authority” to come through Adam in the fallen world, especially as that phrase is ambiguous enough for narrow construction.

    I appreciate the comments, and look forward to returning to the temple with new things to think about.

  156. Julie in Austin on July 14, 2005 at 6:08 pm

    Oops, Todd, you are right. I guess since in the original I was negating the word I didn’t give it as much thought as I should have. I think I want to convey not personal access but maybe something like access to the line of authority.

  157. Rosalynde Welch on July 15, 2005 at 12:44 am

    It’s not that Eve doesn’t have a relationship with God, or that she had a relationship with God and then lost it, it’s that she doesn’t have a *hieratic* relationship with God. The temple is a ritual space, and as such it is administered sacerdotally, and relationships between individuals are mediated by priesthood relationships: Adam serves God in his priestly function, and Eve serves Adam in hers (and, conversely, God presides over Adam, and Adam presides over Eve). In order for Eve to have a hieratic relationship with God—one that would register in the ritual space of the temple—she would need to be ordained to the proper order of the priesthood.

    Outside of the temple, women of course have personal spiritual relationships with deity.

  158. Lisa B. on July 15, 2005 at 9:17 am

    Todd: You asked Julie: “I like your idea that the “the presiding and judging roles will ideally help Adam and Eve help each other to overcome their weaknesses,” but why isn’t there reciprocity in the relationship? Even in a fallen world, why is it that Adam should not also follow Eve as she follows God – making both directly related to God through each other?”

    Seems to me that Adam had already demonstrated the propensity to do so (he followed Eve’s valiant choice in partaking the fruit and being willing to leave the garden and enter the next necessary phase of growth). God was simply letting Eve know that she should also do the same that Adam had already (naturally?) done.

  159. Lisa B. on July 15, 2005 at 10:04 am

    A Greenwood said : “Eve’s relationship to Adam is part of her relationship to God. It’s done at his command.” I think the opposite is true as well, and that that is represented by what precedes the expulsion. The explanation of the conditions of mortality directly follow Adam’s choice to follow Eve. Because they both recognized the importance of being together. Therefore, Adam’s relationship to Eve being part of his relationship to God and done at his command HAD ALREADY BEEN RECOGNIZED by Adam and Eve by virtue of their actions of leaving the garden TOGETHER, with Adam specifically having recognized the need for Eve, and having followed Eve’s counsel to do take that next, big, hard step. So there was no need for that to be pointed out or formalized. I think the counsel Adam and Eve receive about the conditions of mortality even out the imbalance that their actions alone had created–an imbalance of female autonomous action/leadership, and Adam’s of hearkening. I think likening the scriptures to myself means imagining myself in the shoes of every character in the drama. When am I like Adam? When am I like Eve? When am I like Satan? When am I like Christ? What can I do to be more like Christ (and by extension, like our Heavenly Parents) and less like Satan? When I do this, message to me is that ideally neither member of a couple should act autonomously–particularly if that act is one that would lead to disunity. An important consideration given the idea of being sealed God’s and the goal of eventual union with the divine.

    As far as gender issues go, I agree with whomever pointed out that the church collectively is the bride of Christ (and other gender-flexible applications of gender-specific symbols). Christ represents both Heavenly Father AND Heavenly Mother. He tells us that through his ministry and the atonement he has carried us in his womb, given birth to us, and gahered and nursed us. He says he loves us as a mother loves her sucking child (no, moreso). This bothers me only when I am taking gender differences too literally/ too seriously. The ONLY solution to me is to assume that “all are alike unto God male and female” and there being “no male or female in Christ” and joint heirship greater weight than my own suppositions about the meanings or implications of the eternal nature of gender as per the family proclamation. After all, am I going to be too sexist to allow a male Savior to change ME?

  160. Nefareus on July 16, 2005 at 3:42 am

    I find it interesting that Adam/husbands are not told by God to issue commands, or even requests to Eve/wives

  161. Harold B. Curtis on July 17, 2005 at 11:53 pm

    I have appreciated the candor of those who struggle with temple worship. The invitation is to all to prepare oneself and come.

    There is so much to learn in that sacred setting. The temple is where God grants to the individual all they are able to bear. Some times we can receive more than at other times.

    I think one benefit, among many, is the revelation of our own personal nature. We can exchange our “Sunday best street clothes” for temple whites very easily. But exchanging the feelings, attitudes, street savvy, business acumen, attainments, failures, weaknesses, worldliness, covetousness, pride, anger, loneliness, etc, etc, for the temple dress of hope faith, charity, service, kindness, mercy……well you just don’t button that on without a struggle, believe me. At least that is my experience. But it is worth the effort.

    Litmus test…….I say the temple is a litmus test for many things. But perhaps more descriptive words for this test would be oil and lamp…….

  162. Lisa B. on July 19, 2005 at 2:21 pm

    Katie–My thanks is overdue, but I wanted to add my appreciation to Maria’s. I’ve long considered the comments about what men and women suffer in their respective roles in mortality to be descriptions of the fallen world rather than “punishments” or commands, but had not extended that possibility to the differences in priesthood function within and outside the temple and in the world vs in the celestial world. Makes me wonder about the second half of Moses 4:22, particularly the discussion about desire, particularly insofar as desire is concerned. If this is a description of the fallen world, should our desires actually be to God instead?

    Don’t know if anyone else is still interested enough to resurrect this discussion, but I’m surprised that we haven’t talked about “desire” itself more.

  163. Lisa B. on July 19, 2005 at 2:22 pm

    oops, strike the “insofar as desire is concerned”