The Unauthorized Investigator's Guide to
The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints
Mormon Temple Covenants
If you go to the temple to receive your
endowments, after the initiatory ordinances but before the rest of the
ceremony you will be told the following:
If you proceed and receive your full endowment, you will be required
to take upon yourselves sacred obligations, the violation of which will
bring upon you the judgment of God; for God will not be mocked. If any of
you desire to withdraw rather than accept these obligations of your own
free will and choice, you may now make it known by raising your hand.
It seems fair to give the patron the obligation to withdraw from the
ceremony. But there is a serious problem with how it is done: the patron
does not know at this point in the ceremony exactly what the sacred
obligations are that he or she will be required to take upon himself or
herself. It's as if they present you with a contract and say if you sign it
you will be required to fulfill some specific obligations. They then make
you decide whether or not you will sign it before they allow you to read the
contract and know specifically what you are agreeing to.
For numerous reasons, I don't believe the promises made in the temple are
binding. Nevertheless, the savvy investigator will want to know what
specific commitments lay ahead of him or her on the road through the Mormon
church. That is the need I am attempting to fill here.
- Garments: (Garments are the underwear that Mormons receive
in the Temple. When you are placed in the garments, you are given the
following commandment and promise, and are subsequently asked in
interviews by your bishop if you wear your church-authorized garments both
day and night) I place this Garment upon you,
which you must wear throughout your life. It represents the Garment given
to Adam when he was found naked in the Garden of Eden, and is called the
Garment of the Holy Priesthood. Inasmuch as you do not defile it, but are
true and faithful to your covenants, it will be a shield and a protection
to you against the power of the destroyer until you have finished your
work here on earth.
- Law of Obedience (women): You and
each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and these
witnesses at this altar that you will each observe and keep the law of
the Lord and hearken unto the counsel of your husband as he hearkens unto
the counsel of the Father. Each of you bow your head and say "Yes."
Law of Obedience (men): You and each of you solemnly covenant and
promise before God, angles, and these witnesses at this altar that you
will obey the law of God, and keep his commandants. Each of you bow your
head and say "yes".
- Law of Sacrifice: The posterity of Adam down to Moses, and from
Moses to Jesus Christ offered up the first fruits of the field, and the
firstlings of the flock, which continued until the death of Jesus Christ,
which ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood. And as Jesus Christ has
laid down his life for the redemption of mankind, so we should covenant to
sacrifice all that we possess, even our own lives if necessary, in
sustaining and defending the Kingdom of God.
You and each of you solemnly covenant and promise before God, angels, and
these witnesses at this alter that you will observe and keep the Law of
Sacrifice, as contained in the Holy Scriptures, as it has been explained
to you. Each of you bow your head and say "yes."
- Tokens, Names, and Signs: (A token is a specific handshake,
a name is a specific word or phrase, and a sign is a specific gesture with
the hands and arms. The temple endowment has 4 tokens, each with an
associated name and sign. When the tokens are given, you promise never to
reveal it, nor the accompanying name and sign. This is the introduction
to the first token which, for the purposes of this page, will represent
the promise of secrecy regarding all of the names, signs, and tokens of
the temple) We desire to impress upon your minds the sacred character
of the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name
and sign, as well as that of all the other tokens of the Holy Priesthood,
with their names, and signs, which you will receive in the temple this
day. They are most sacred, and are guarded by solemn covenants and
obligations made in the presence of God, Angels and these witnesses to
hold them sacred and under no condition, even at the peril of your life,
will you ever divulge them, except at a certain place in the temple that
will be shown you hereafter.
- Law of the Gospel: We are required to give unto you the Law of
the Gospel as contained in the Holy Scriptures; to give unto you also a
charge to avoid all lightmindedness, loud laughter, evil speaking of the
Lord's anointed, the taking of the name of God in vain, and every other
unholy and impure practice, and to cause you to receive these by covenant.
You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these
witnesses at this altar, that you will observe and keep the Law of the
Gospel and this charge as it has been explained to you. Each of you bow
your head and say "yes."
- Law of Chastity: We are instructed to give unto you the law of
Chastity, which is that you shall have no sexual relations except with
your husband or wife to whom you are legally and lawfully wedded.
You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these
witnesses that you will observe and keep the Law of Chastity, as it has
been explained to you. Each of you bow your head and say "yes."
- The Law of Consecration: You and each of you covenant and
promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do
accept the Law of Consecration as contained in the Doctrine and
Covenants, in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents,
and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may
bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the
building up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment
That is it--the covenants and promises that you should be prepared to
make if and when you go to the temple.
Some Additional Thoughts...
To me, the central theme of an advanced spiritual ritual should
be love. It should be about getting in touch with your own humanity and the
way in which people are connected and interdependent. It should make you
more sensitive to the needs, feelings, and virtues of others. It should
teach you to be less judgmental of other people.
In contrast, the central theme of the covenants of the endowment isn't
love, but rather loyalty. Obey the church, sacrifice all you have for the
church, don't speak evil of the leaders of the church (without regard to
whether or not that speech would be true), and give yourself, your time, and
everything you own to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The most appealing part of the Endowment ceremony is Adam's noble quest
for further light and knowledge. I really like Adam's no-compromise
attitude when it comes to his perceptions and his integrity.
The least appealing part is the attitude of elitism it gives--it gives
God's secret handshakes to God's chosen people wearing God's holy underwear
on their journey to becoming gods, goddesses, kings, and queens. It tries
to motivate through pride and greed rather than charity and love..