Saturday, December 5, 2009

Chapter Seventeen: Temples and Temple Work

Chapter Seventeen

Temples and Temple Work

The pinnacle of all mortal relationships is the binding and sealing of couples and their subsequent family units in the temples by the authority of the priesthood. Elder Bruce R. McConkie described the essential nature of temple covenants as they relate to our families and our eternal purposes:

All things center in the family, and the family is the center of all things. Salvation itself is a family affair and consists of the continuation of the family unit in eternity. God himself is exalted and omnipotent because he is a Father, and his kingdoms and dominions are composed of his children over whom he rules in equity and justice forever. The whole system of salvation, of revelation, of religion, of worship -- all that comes from Deity for the benefit of man -- is tied into a divine patriarchal system. If any of us gain the fulness of reward in our Father’s kingdom, it will be because we enter into family relationships that are eternal in nature; it will be because we have perfected our own patriarchal family units. These concepts are part of the very foundation upon which true religion rests. (The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-81], 1:214).

Joseph Smith taught the essential purpose in gathering God’s sons and daughters together in every gospel dispensation has been temple work. This includes the building of temples, and the ordinance work pertaining to salvation and exaltation performed therein. (TPJS, 182-3; 307-9).

Only as we gather and pool our individual resources can we accomplish the monumental work of building temples and then receiving and performing the important ordinances therein. Only by virtue of the higher ordinances of the house of the Lord can God’s children be ultimately empowered to overcome the world, and to bring again Zion preparatory to the Lord’s second coming. If we do not obtain the fullness of the priesthood powers of Elijah, wherein we obtain the fullness of the sealing powers to be sanctified in the flesh and made holy, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming, as there would be none able to withstand the heat and light of terrestrial glory which will be manifest when old things are consumed and all things made new.

We can only prepare for the Lord’s coming by working together. We cannot build temples alone. We cannot perform the work of gathering and perfecting a Zion people on any other premise. We must become one. There is an extremely important parallel principle in this.

The key purpose in bringing God’s sons and daughters together in marriage and holy sexual union is also “temple work” on this wise: Marriage pertains to the creation of living temples for the spirit offspring of God, and there are holy ordinances that apply to salvation and exaltation performed in these living temples not unlike those ordinances performed in temples made of men’s hands.

The laws, rites and ordinances of marriage pertain to the creation of living temples for the spirit children of God. This is literally the work of “temple” building. The end result is the very same, the salvation and exaltation of God’s children through power:

We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom. The great principle of happiness consists in having a body.
. . . All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. (TPJS, 181).

Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and a knowledge to triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved, as in the case of Jesus, who was to reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy was death. . .
Perhaps there are principles here that few men have thought of. No person can have this salvation except through a tabernacle. . . the greatness of [Satan’s] punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. (TPJS, 297).

The spirits in the eternal world are like the spirits in this world. When those have come into this world and received tabernacles, then died and again have risen and received glorified bodies, they will have an ascendency [sic] over the spirits who have received no bodies. . . (TPJS, 305-6).

Latter-day Saints who comprehend their religion understand that bodies, temples and tabernacles are all closely related terms pertaining to common eternal principles of power and salvation. Both temples made with hands by the authority of the priesthood, and those made without hands by the authority of the priesthood, are absolutely essential to the salvation and exaltation of God’s children.

The priest, possessing the power of the seeds is “the fountain of living waters,” spoken of in the scriptures. Living waters are living waters! This sacred fluid flowing from the priest fertilizes the priestess, “the tree of life” that she might bear fruit, or bring forth children unto the Lord. Blessed is the fruit of her womb.

The great privilege of living temple work then falls to her to perform, as priests are not empowered with these keys or capacities. Let us note these marvelous powers:

• In her temple she performs sacred initiatory ordinances of life. In the waters of her womb she prepares or anoints her children with eyes to see, ears to hear, shoulders to bare the burdens of life, and with every other part and organ necessary to perform their proper functions. She clothes her child in a covering of skin which will act as a shield and protection to this spirit child until its work on earth is done.

• She also performs the living temple work of genetically endowing her child with innate knowledge and powers to enable the child to righteously perform its duties, preparatory to entering back into the presence of the Lord. Through the genetic powers of her temple, linked by the umbilical cord to her child within, she endows each child. One she endows with artistic fingers and eyes to create wonderful works of art. To another she endows gifted ears and voice to create beautiful music. Another she endows with great intellectual acuity, and to another she gives brute strength and great physical coordination. Multiple physical attributes are endowed upon the physical temples of the children of God by priestesses performing holy ordinances within their living temples, not for the dead, but for the living.

• The priestess by virtue of the sealing power she holds in concert with the Savior, performs the union or sealing of the body and spirit of her child. It is through this union her child becomes a living soul. What she and God have joined together “let no man put asunder,” as such an act would constitute murder. (See D&C 88:15-16).

• Finally, we have observed it is the priestess, who in a final washing and anointing “by water, blood and the spirit” breaks her holy water, and brings forth a new prince or princess of the kingdom in the miraculous and most holy ordinance of birth.

We emphasize here that no priest, regardless of offices or titles he may hold in the Church, is empowered with these sacred keys that only the woman possesses. None has either the authority or the power to perform these sacred washings, anointings, living endowments and sealing ordinances pertaining to the life and salvation of God’s children but mothers. Not even in the eternal worlds to come will men possess these powers.

We further note the priestess performs these holy ordinances and rituals according to sacred laws:

• According to the law of obedience she keeps the first law “to multiply and fill the earth,” and she righteously does so within the bounds the Lord has set according to the law of chastity.

• While the righteous priest sacrifices and works to build a temple of stones worthy of all acceptation to the Lord, no one keeps the law of sacrifice more perfectly than a faithful mother, as her physical temple sacrifices for nine long months to build a new and glorious temple unto the Most High God. Her baby becomes in every sense a temple worthy of all acceptation, she having fit and framed it properly at great personal cost, even at the peril of her own life.

Consecrating her time, talents, energy and all with which the Lord has blessed her according to the law of the gospel, she creates, nurtures, teaches and serves her children in light and truth, and in Christ-like love before and after the ordinance of birth.

President Joseph Fielding Smith described “. . .the women [who] will become queens [and] priestesses, in the eternal order that the Lord has given for the fulness of his kingdom.” (See Take Heed to Yourselves: comp. Joseph Fielding Smith, Jr. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966], 258). She does not allow her temple to be defiled. In her holy place, holy things are done according to the laws of heaven within the bounds the Lord has set, and that which she brings forth in the covenant is holy unto the Lord. The promise to faithful mothers is their children will bring them great joy.

Those who believe God’s daughters are slighted of priestly prerogatives need to have their eyes touched by the spirit to see things as they really are, rather than merely as they appear to be in the dark and deceptive world of the present.

President Joseph F. Smith said:

There are people fond of saying that women are the weaker vessels. I don’t believe it. Physically, they may be; but spiritually, morally, religiously and in faith, what man can match a woman who is really convinced? Daniel had faith to sustain him in the lion’s den, but women have seen their sons torn limb from limb, and endured every torture satanic cruelty could invent because they believed. They are always more willing to make sacrifices, and are the peers of men in stability, Godliness, morality and faith. (Gospel Doctrine, 352).

The prophets have always spoken consistently and emphatically about the singular role of mothers, a role with profound influence and power in the lives of her children. President Wilford W. Woodruff had this perspective:

I consider that the mother has a greater influence over her posterity than any other person can have. And the question has arisen some time: “When does this education begin?” Our prophets have said, “When the spirit life from God enters into the tabernacle.” The condition of the mother at that time will have its effect upon the fruit of her womb; and from the birth of the child, and all through life, the teachings and the example of the mother govern and control, in a great measure, that child, and her influence is felt by it through time and eternity. (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1946], 269).

Yes, it is true that for six thousand years it is the men who have been called to sacrifice family and home to go out into the lone and dreary world, even at the risk of life, and call the world to repentance. Theirs has been the mission to preach the gospel of repentance, even the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to bring about a new birth in the lives of men, women and children. The blood of the prophets stands as a witness to the devotion of God’s faithful sons. But how can this reality be shown to eclipse what the daughters of God have been called upon to suffer and sacrifice for six thousand years in bringing to pass the first birth of children even at the risk of their lives? The blood of queens and priestesses stands as a witness of the devotion of God’s faithful daughters.

Yes, men have been called to teach and tolead the Church in building up the kingdom of God. How does this even begin to overshadow the building of the kingdom accomplished by faithful mothers, who are bringing their children up in the admonition of the Lord?

Yes, God’s sons have been exclusively authorized to perform vital priesthood ordinances pertaining to life and salvation in temples made with hands. How can it be said their priestly duties in any way exceed the miraculous ordinances of life and salvation God’s daughters are exclusively empowered to perform unto the Lord in temples made without hands? Know ye not, daughters of God, that ye are the temples of the Lord?

Are we really going to quarrel about which birth is more important or whose role is more vital in the eternal scheme of things? Haven’t we more important things to do?  Are we really going to debate amongst ourselves in the Church whether or not gay marriage is even an option, given the flood of revealed truth that has been showered upon us in the Restoration?  In the 1990s the Church dealt with the proposed equal rights amendments and now in this new century the Church stands adamantly opposed to any other form of marriage definition than the one given to us by revelation -- that marriage consists of the union between a man and a woman -- and no other definition is contemplated by the plan of happiness given to us by God.

As for presiding in the home, try to find even one righteous family where the children honestly respect and revere a father even as much or more than the mother. Which parent honestly wields the most influence, and which impacts the life of each child more? Which parent has the greater power, if we must compare? There is no such thing as the ascendancy of fathers in righteous homes.

Modern society, and mankind historically, has not only failed to see, understand or truly appreciate the majestic powers of womanhood, but has failed to grasp even the slightest nuance of the eternal powers of womanhood. For six thousand years the holy temples of women have been abused, unlawfully entered, defiled and ravaged by fathers, brothers, husbands, brutes and devils. In the darkness of mortality’s debacle too many women have gladly traded their physical temple bodies which were designed for the noble role of mother and have sold their bodies for things as worthless as money and popularity. Today the holy powers and privileges of motherhood are being abased, mocked, ridiculed, belittled and deserted as never before. The daughters of God are ignorantly selling their holy birthrights and sacred rites for the pathetic pottage of money, degrees, professions and the honors of men.

The tragedy is these are not true answers to the immortal yearnings of the female soul. The daughters of God will never be truly fulfilled adopting the inane roles of their selfish, brutish brothers, simulating the life styles of foolish TV role models, or deserting their ideals of marriage and their divine instincts of faithful motherhood for the professional workplace. Leaving the divine path of the Christ-centered faithful wife and selfless mother, they will never find the peace, fulfillment and happiness for which they long. To do so is proving to be as foolish a thing as the heavens ever witnessed. Of course, many long for these goals, but do not attain them for reasons beyond their control. For these the desires of their hearts will in time be fulfilled.

Decades before he became “President Benson,” Elder Ezra Taft Benson spoke of the genuine happiness associated with our homes:

There can be no genuine happiness separate and apart from the home. The sweetest influences and associations of life are there. We cannot be successful no matter what goals we attain in the material world, no matter what honors of men come to us; we will not be successful in our lives if we fail as fathers and mothers. (CR, Oct. 1947, 27).

However, we are witnessing an increasing rate of failed marriages. Our families are crumbling, our society disintegrating, all at an unprecedented rate because women are bartering their eternal destiny for the fool’s gold of Babylon. The sons of God have long been guilty of distorted priorities, but faithful wives and mothers have persevered to their eternal glory until now. Today everything has changed, as women are partaking of the sins of the men in wholesale fashion, leaving few to stem a fateful tide.

The fact so many marriages are failing and so many families are crumbling does not make casting away or rejecting eternal values any less foolish or tragic than in days of less opposition, when more marriages and families were succeeding. Eternal truth has never been defined by the trends of the moment. The truth is marriages are not failing and families are not failing either. Marriages don’t fail. People fail. The gospel doesn’t fail the people. People fail to live the gospel. In the end none of this proves or disproves the gospel. Rather, the gospel was given to prove the people.

Never has there been a greater need for the sons and the daughters of God to stand firm in the faith and to be true to the work of the kingdom. Never has there been a greater need for the sons of God to stand firm and to be true to the work. Never has there been a greater need for the parents of Zion to be true to the cause of heaven.

Arbitrary and selfish decisions about birth control, abortion, singlehood, homosexuality, lesbianism, transgender operations, day care centers and an overwhelming obsession with the honors of men, the wealth of the world, the popularity and pleasures of the world are turning the heads of the children of God in a most alarming fashion. Even in the Church among those who have entered into the covenant and been tutored in the eternal principles of salvation there is a disappointing lack of adherence to truth and the cause of Zion.

Today too many living temples are being defiled. The ordinances therein are being changed, their higher purposes abandoned. Their glory is being diminished, their powers dwindling. As saints we need to more fully comprehend our gospel covenants. The first gospel principles and ordinances outside the temples are individual in nature, but the fullness of the gospel inside the temples is patriarchal in nature. They pertain to the eternal privileges and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood, which pertain to exaltation with the Gods. As a people and individually these sacred covenant duties must be our highest values, whether male or female, whether married or single, divorced, widowed, barren or genetically challenged in any other way.

The insightful observations of Jeanie McAllister, a single sister in the Church, should hearten and give hope to all:

Whether single or married, let us celebrate and support marriages and families. . .
Thank God for the principle of eternal marriage and families together forever! For many of us who are single, the principles we’ve learned as the progeny of such marriages, or the prospect ahead that such a marriage can be ours, keeps our faith burning. Everyone benefits from happy marriages and happy children because, to a large degree, they create the world in which we live.
We watch you who are married. We are heartened when we see moments of quiet affection between you. We notice what you say and do for your partners and your children. We say, “We want marriages and families like that!” Thank you when you live your lives in faith-promoting ways. It helps us.
And thank you to those priesthood and Relief Society leaders who call us to meaningful positions of service and leadership in our wards and stakes. When we must wait for marriage, what a blessing it is not to wait to work in the kingdom.
We can learn much from interacting with couples and families and, yes, from sitting through Relief Society and priesthood lessons about marriage and children. This is often tough for those of us not yet married, because it constantly reminds us of unfulfilled expectations. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred maketh the heart sick.” And many who have not yet married or have lost a partner to death or divorce are often heartsick. Frankly, it hurts sometimes to be single. But even the happiest people tell me it hurts sometimes to be married. I think the truth is it simply hurts sometimes to be mortal. . .
Let us be one. Let us be his. Single and married, let us join together as comrades in arms in the fight for families and all that is good, loving each other and, as the hymn says, moving onward as Christian soldiers, “One in hope and doctrine, One in charity” (Hymns, 1985, no. 246). (Ensign, March 1996, 22-3).

Mortality was never designed as a perfect set of circumstances for everyone. The gospel pointing to eternal felicity, however, is perfect. We must hold our temple covenants sacred and not faint in the heat of the day regardless of what life throws at us, no matter how confused the world becomes about these things, no matter how challenging our personal situations may become. If we are true and faithful, temple promises assure the day will come when the blessings of these eternal principles will be multiplied upon our heads an hundredfold, and we will be given all the Father has despite our disparate circumstances now. (See D&C 76:50-70; 84:33-49).

Soon after he was called as the president of the Frankfurt Germany Temple, Elder F. Enzio Busche related this story, illustrating the relationship between what he termed the “male and female” parts of the priesthood:

One day, not long after I had begun serving in the temple, I met a woman in the American military service who came for her own endowment. She was accompanied by some sisters from her ward, as well as a priesthood leader. As Sister Busche and I began teaching her about the temple, I felt that she had a somewhat unsettled spirit and saw a little of that in the sisters who were with her, who were all officers in the military. When the priesthood leader inquired as to when I thought the Church would receive revelation giving the priesthood to women, I was at first so shocked that I felt a strong desire to give a stern response and even question his worthiness to be in the temple.
However, as I momentarily withheld my answer and sought guidance from the Spirit, I was witness to something most remarkable. A calmness from someplace else entered my heart, and I heard myself saying things that were somewhat new to me. As I remember, my remarks, in an abbreviated form, were approximately as follows:
The priesthood is neither male nor female, although it has a male part and a female part. Through the eternal bond of marriage, built on the divine gift of love, the priesthood becomes complete. The roles of the two parts are, of course, vastly different.
Heavenly Father has given the female the role of bringing new life to this world. She does so in a physical dimension – by nurturing, tutoring, training, and teaching – and in the wearing of the very eternal virtues of chastity, loyalty, and wholesomeness, which are essential for the very existence of humankind. Our Heavenly Father has given the male the role of providing, protecting, and admiring. Male and female are in many ways mysteriously different and, because of that, there is a natural desire to love one another in harmony with the divine laws as they have been reestablished by the restoration of the gospel.
The best way to gain an understanding of the male and female part of the priesthood is to be reminded of a tree. As we look at a tree, it appears to be complete with its trunk, branches, leaves, and blossoms; but we know that another, equally important part of the tree is invisible. The roots – which, quite unseen, lie deeply embedded in the soil – are constantly nourishing and strengthening the visible parts of the tree. The roots do not argue with the trunk. They both enjoy oneness.
The temple is the Lord’s essential instrument used to reestablish a true understanding of the male and female parts of the priesthood. In the temple, both men and women wear the robe of the priesthood and are given the garments of the priesthood. Righteous men and women learn that although women are not physically involved in conducting the affairs of the priesthood, no man can excel in his priesthood calling for long without the blessing and care and guidance of a righteous woman. When we listen very carefully in the temple and learn to understand and accept our male and female roles, we will soon see ourselves in our own limitations. Those who concentrate their efforts in developing the purposes and virtues of their own gender will build tender, bonding bridges between men and women on the basis of mutual respect and admiration, inspired by the divine, miraculous power of love. A society that fails to accept the eternal concept of this godly design must pay an unbearable price of confusion of the individual, which can, potentially, lead to chaos, destruction, and the unhappiness of the soul. (Elder F. Enzio Busche, Yearning for the Living God, 214-15).

We love what Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said about strengthening one another:

It is as Martin Luther once said, “The kingdom of God is like a besieged city surrounded on all sides by death. Each man [and woman] has [a] place on the wall to defend and no one can stand where another stands, but nothing prevents us from calling encouragement to one another.”

I think the Brethren have seen some spiritual death near the gates of the city in past days, and perhaps they fear they will see more in the years ahead. Each of us needs to take our place on the wall and to call out encouragement to one another. I have my station, and Sister Holland has hers, and each of you has your own. None of us will stand in the place of any other, but like Gideon’s valiant band, we can stand in our own place (Judges 7:21). Together we can fight against the prince of darkness and the dangers of spiritual decay. Our covenants are our protection. Our strength will be in the Lord. Every woman, man, and accountable child will be enlisted “till the conflict is o’er.” We must stand true and call out encouragement to one another. (To Rejoice as Women, “Concerning Covenants: Women, Men, Perspective, Promises,” 109).

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