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Love it or hate it, for temple-going Mormons your recommend has a shelf life of 24 months before you are assumed unworthy unless you declare otherwise in person.
What would you do with Temple Recommend interviews? (choose the answer that most closely fits)
Tags: interview, temple recommend, worthiness
This entry was posted on July 28, 2012 at 3:03 PM and is filed under Agency, Church Policy, Faith, Mormon, Mormon Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
Perhaps entry into the temple should be based on whatever requirements existed during Joseph Smith’s tenure as Prophet/President. I would aver that research on that topic ought to provoke insights.
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I would also liked to have chosen not to make tithing a requirement for temple entry.
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Why should we have any standards? Aren’t NOM dedicated to destroying all faith, and improvement?
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Yes, you’re absolutely right! And, we’d like to see you eat your children as well.
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Roger, if you’d like an interesting history of temple recommend interview procedures, read Breugger’s Mysteries of Godliness. Fascinating read!
I for one am not keen to go back to the JS style “interview” with a firm handshake and one earnest look in the eye. Unfortunately, a few local leaders I’ve encountered seem to think they can also discern much from the old deadeye “leadership” stare. I’m sure some can. But it seems a little put on by a few of them, kind of like some of the flowery phrases you hear in elaborate prayers that seem more an audition than a heartfelt communion with their God.
My last TR interview was my best. The counselor told me at the beginning that being worthy to have a temple recommend was completely between me and God. If I felt worthy, then I was. He then stated that he was required by the Church to ask some specific questions, but again, the answers didn’t really matter that much to him because I was ultimately responsible to God.
That was a much more profound interview than any I have had before (and I have had quite a few in my 45+ years as a member). It’s ultimately how it should be as well.
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#6 – Mike S
That is impressive indeed! I agree, that is how it should be. Sounds like that counselor needs to be a bishop.
Roger, Joseph personally knew everyone that got an endowment, so the question was really this: (1) Can Joseph trust them? (2) Nearly all of those endowed were supposed to affirm polygamy, so would they affirm polygamy? That seems like a big problem today if they asked that today.
In 1856, the Temple Recommend interview and questions had not yet been standardized to the semi-formal procedure it is today. The First Presidency sent a letter stating that those recommended by local leaders should“be those who pray, who pay their tithing from year to year; who live the lives of saints from day to day; setting good examples before their neighbors. Men and women, boys and girls over 16 years of age who are living the lives of saints, believer in the plurality [plural marriage], and do not speak evil of the authorities of the Church, and possess true integrity towards their friends.”Though the Word of Wisdom would not become a formal requirement to enter the Temple until the late 1920’s, in 1886 the First Presidency instructed, among other things, that it is ”inconsistent to carry the smell of whiskey and tobacco into the sacred precincts of the Lord’s House.”
In 1856, the Temple Recommend interview and questions had not yet been standardized to the semi-formal procedure it is today. The First Presidency sent a letter stating that those recommended by local leaders should
“be those who pray, who pay their tithing from year to year; who live the lives of saints from day to day; setting good examples before their neighbors. Men and women, boys and girls over 16 years of age who are living the lives of saints, believer in the plurality [plural marriage], and do not speak evil of the authorities of the Church, and possess true integrity towards their friends.”
Though the Word of Wisdom would not become a formal requirement to enter the Temple until the late 1920’s, in 1886 the First Presidency instructed, among other things, that it is ”inconsistent to carry the smell of whiskey and tobacco into the sacred precincts of the Lord’s House.”
This link has some interesting history: http://www.mormonmonastery.org/papers-1-the-history-of-lds-temple-admission-standards-and-temple-recommend-questions/
#8:MH, It’s late at night for me. But 1856, what Temple were you going to? #5:hawkgrrrl, Are you really going to put down handshakes and the Temple?
Bob – even Queen Elizabeth admitted she didn’t have windows into men’s souls!
“…you are assumed unworthy unless you declare otherwise in person.”
Hmmm. I guess I’ve never thought of it that way. The lack of a recommend is not an assumption of unworthiness; it’s simply the lack of a recommend.
If I felt worthy, then I was.
Then he just disqualified virtually everybody with depression. There has to be some objective standard to measure oneself against, since “feeling worthy” is just beyond some people’s capacity.
Bob, even though there was no completed temple in Utah, there was an Endowment House where endowments were performed. It was torn down when they finished the SL temple.
Mike S – can I borrow your counselor, yew lucky Dawg?
Yes, other than the “mandatories”, which should be fewer, I’d say you should be self-qualifying. It’s not that I don’t feel a use for a bishop being led by the Spirit, but how often is that claim used to justify one’s prejudices and/or “add on”
Last Lemming, I see your point. There was a talk Sunday, where the speaker expressed a wish for an interview every month. For him the interview demonstrated to him that he was worthy, which he had difficulty feeling otherwise.
Personally, I don’t think I’d change much, though I don’t fully understand the point of the belief questions for a renewal.
Well, I didn’t have any options I could vote for. I find them a mirror to the ten commandments – questions about loving God, questions about loving fellow man, and bridge questions. I remember someone saying that the second commandment (love thy fellow man) means little without the first commandment (love the Lord our God) in place first. It is very easy to become misguided in our view of what truly serves our fellow man if we aren’t listening to what God says about serving his children. For that reason, I think the belief questions are huge. I don’t think they’re there to exclude anyone, but to remind us. I can’t see why someone would feel excluded from temple worship if they answered no to one of them and then couldn’t go. If you don’t accept the divinity of Jesus Christ, why would you want to go to the temple? Every club has the right to set standards of commitment to the club’s principles. The TR questions have always felt profoundly important to me.
Once, when I couldn’t answer the question about supporting local leaders in the affirmative, my stake leader lovingly suggested that I go home and consider and pray about it, and then he pleaded with me to come back and talk again. It was a watershed experience for me to 1) have the courage to make that statement in an interview, and 2) spend that time trying to understand the situation. I was a different person afterward.
I believe in the effect of careful consideration of those questions.
Bonnie, I can understand that the belief questions are important for those going to the temple for the first time. As a protection. If we can’t answer the right way, then we aren’t ready to make those covenants, is how I’ve always viewed it. However, for a renewal (which was my point), we have already made those covenants. Going to the temple afterwards may remind us of them, but I have always understood that we renew them by taking the sacrament, just as we renew our baptismal covenants (and we don’t need a recommend for that).
To me, it is a beautiful matter to behold — a man or a woman, having been prepare by previous covenants and priesthood ordinances, goes to the Lord’s priest to obtain a recommend to enter the temple and make covenants and participate in the ordinances there.
The Lord God has always used men as priests. He always will. It is a beautiful matter to me.
Do priests sometimes err? Yes. And, I suppose, they learn during the process. There is great beauty in that, also. We’re all learning as we go.
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#17 Hedgehog, I see the belief questions completely differently. For me (as an interviewer and interviewee) they invite the spirit into the temple recommend interview. I did not fully appreciate this until I was interviewing a mission president who lived in my ward and requested a TR interview from me (I was his bishop). The spirit that accompanied his affirmative answers to the testimony questions was remarkable. I have felt it myself — and been surprised to do so — when I was being interviewed, as well.
Those belief questions set a stage for the rest of the conversation in the interview.
Like so many other things, if the TR interview is a checklist to be slogged through, it may be less meaningful than if it is an opportunity to share testimony of, and to affirm commitment to the gospel.
Amen 1000 times, Paul.
Hedgehog, I get what you’re saying. I think that the gospel is about maintaining as much as accomplishing. All of our covenants are subject to renewal – baptism through the sacrament, repentance through repentance (retaining a remission of our sins), and temple through TR interview and renewed attendance. All may be renewed in a way through “good behavior” – the behaviors associated with those covenants – but they are solidified, verified, and bring us confidence when they are attended by an officiator in the priesthood. In my opinion it’s much less for the purity of the church (as is being discussed in another forum right now) than it is for the benefit of the initiate. We need reminders. The belief questions are the heart of the gospel and should undergird everything we do. The reminder of them is, as Paul indicates, often a time when I bear my most fervent and private testimonies to the Lord. I am thrilled that they are continued because I walk out of those interviews confirmed in my faith and filled with quiet confidence. I long since ceased thinking of them as a worthiness checklist for the bishop’s or the church’s benefit. They’re for me.
Oh! There was an option for me to vote on. That’s what one gets for reading too fast.
Thank you for that perspective Paul. I’ll try and see things a bit differently next time around. I guess I have viewed the TR interview as a check-list – for me though a testimony is a very personal and private thing (I find fast & testimony meeting toe-curling), and the people conducting the interviews are generally not the people I’d ordinarily choose to have such a personal conversation with. Bonnie, I get that the other questions are very much to do with the maintainance of the covenants we made, and I do think it is important they are asked regularly.
Hedgehog, I understand your perspective. I gave a lot of TR interviews before that one with the Mission President that changed my thinking. I was probably a pretty “check-list” interviewer for a long time.
My most recent interview was telling though. I blogged about it not long ago. During those first questions, I was quite surprised by the very private and personal witness I had while answering those routine questions at the front of the interview. I doubt the counselor who interviewed me had any inkling of what I was experiencing, and I didn’t tell him (because he wasn’t one of those I’d have those conversations with — instead I’m sharing it with you and all my anonymous friends here…). But you’re right: it’s very personal, and it doesn’t happen every time for me.
Noted that the large majority are saying don’t fix what ain’t broken. Nice!
I think that for the most part, the temple recommend interview is fine. 2 years seems a reasonable amount of time and I don’t mind any of the questions. However, I do think that the “Do you associate with any groups contrary to the teachings of the church” question should be reworded or removed.
I was always told that it refers to polygamist groups, but I know there are bishops out there who would consider feminist or groups supporting gay marriage to be in opposition to the church and it kind of makes me uncomfortable.
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#25 – not “broken”, necessarily, but perhaps in need of a tune-up. IMO, too often TR interviews become a forum for bishops to get on their self-righteous high horse. Fortunately, not all are like that, but their needs to be a better method to either train these knuckleheads (after all, if they are giving of their time and efforts, let their service be effective) or overrule the more stupid of their decisions. How many pompous twits have driven perfectly good members into inactivity or out of the Church altogether because they get a bug up their collective backsides.
Douglas (no. 27) — How many? You tell me your guess. My guess is about zero.
A relationship with God, or with God’s priest, is a dance. There’s give and take. There’s learning. As long as one approaches God’s priest knowing that he is human and a fellow pilgrim, then all will be well.
#26 LovelyLauren: However, I do think that the “Do you associate with any groups contrary to the teachings of the church” question should be reworded or removed.
Do some of the sites in the Bloggernacle count? And what does “associate” mean? Visiting? Commenting? Writing posts for?
Going on LovelyLauren’s comment, sometimes in wards that question leads to RS sisters not associating with ANY groups outside of the church.
That question really does need to be reworded or at least be specific on the groups.
ji 28. At least 1. It took 4 months of interviews to get my last TR because after I answered all the questions the Bishop told me he would not give me a recommend because I had questioned the assertions my HP group leader made in an anti Gay Marriage email he sent to the ward list.
The Stake pres didn’t seem to have a problem with my questioning and effectively told the Bishop, in my presence, that he didn’t want to overrule him but..
The Bishop eventually told me he had fastred and prayed and felt to give me a recommend.
Yes it did cause me to question some more about whether Church leaders are called of God, and whether I should continue to go, but I still do. Met the SP in the Temple the following week, Bishop rarely speaks to me anyway.
I’ve said it elsewhere, but the church itself affiliates with groups (often in interfaith efforts) that contradict its aims and that actively seek to bring us down in some cases. So, it’s a low bar. I’d certainly point that out if asked. Politics is full of strange bedfellows, and so is any effort to build bridges between groups in a common aim.
Geoff (no. 31) — So as I understand, after your first encounter, the bishop prayed and reconsidered — that’s wonderful! God bless our bishops!
We’re all pilgrims. All of us are learning.
Hawk and MH—thanks for the follow-up and the references. They gave me something else to ponder.
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