Is the Mormon Temple Ceremony Secret or Sacred?

James Walker

Latter-day Saints have a long standing criticism of our ministry because when teaching on Mormonism, we often reveal portions of the secret Mormon Temple ceremony. While they don't like anything we say, this sometimes seems to upset them the most. At one seminar, about fifteen Mormon missionaries stood in unison and walked briskly out of the auditorium when the subject of the ritual was discussed.

The temple ceremony is one of the most important events in the life of a Mormon. To participate, the Mormon must go before his Bishop and Stake President for interviews to determine his personal "worthiness." To pass, he must be a full tithe payer; must not smoke, drink coffee or tea; must not possess any "anti-Mormon" literature (like the Watchman Expositor) and if he has already "received his endowments," must wear the authorized Mormon Temple undergarments constantly. Those who successfully comply with these and a host of other questions, receive the coveted "temple recommend," a card which certifies their worthiness and allows them entrance into a Mormon Temple.

The vast majority of Mormons never reach this level of commitment and can never receive their endowments and be married and sealed to their spouse for "time and all eternity," in this life -- an important part of the ritual.

The Temple Ceremony

Those that do reach that goal are exposed to a ceremony similar in many aspects to Free Masonry. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were Masons and "borrowed" a number of blood oaths, and secret handshakes from the Masonic Lodge (see Mormonism, Magic & Masonry, Jerald and Sandra Tanner; Mormonism & Freemasonry: The Illinois Episode, Mervin B. Hogan).

First, the men and women are separated and go to their respective dressing areas where they remove their clothing and place over their heads a white sheet open on both sides with a hole for the head in the center. They then are lead to the "washing and anointing room" where various parts of the body are ceremoniously clean¬sed and anointed by a temple worker while a corresponding "blessing" is said over each area of the body that it may function as God intended.

Also, once inside the temple, the participants or "patrons" are lead through a series of blood oaths of secrecy. In these oaths they promise that the ritual will never be divulged even under penalty of death. The sign or corresponding penalty of the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood involves the Mormon cupping his left hand while placing his right thumb under his left ear then drawing it quickly across his throat to his right ear and then dropping both hands to his side. This represents having one's throat cut from ear to ear.

Another portion of the ceremony presents Satan trying to deceive Adam and Eve by hiring a Christian pastor who preaches "the orthodox religion." This is a not too subtle attempt to link orthodox Christian doctrine and ministers directly to Satan. The Christian doctrines of God being Spirit (John 4:24) and of a literal Hell (Luke 16:22-26) are particularly singled out at this point for ridicule. (see What's Going On In There by Chuck and Dolly Sackett)

With just this very brief description of a small portion of the Temple ritual, it is little wonder why Mormons prefer to keep the ceremony "in house" and why it is not a featured part of their vast public relations campaign. If I was participating in a ritual like this, I would want to keep it a secret too.

Jesus And Secret Temple Ceremonies

As incredible as it may sound to non-Mormon ears, Latter-day Saints believe their temple ceremony is a restoration of those practiced in the Old and New Testaments. They think that Moses, David, Isaiah, and even Jesus, performed these same LDS ordinances during Biblical times in the Tabernacle, Solomon's Temple, Herod's Temple, etc.

However, near the end of his earthly ministry when brought before the High Priest, Jesus said, "I spake openly to the world, I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort, and in secret have I said nothing," (John 18:20). Jesus never participated in secret rituals. His teachings, including those "in the temple" were spoken "openly."

True, portions of the Jewish temple were closed to the Gentiles, women, and even most Jews. The Holy of Holies was reserved for one man only, the high priest, and then only once a year. But the difference is that everyone knew exactly what took place in the Jewish Temples. It was no secret. A detailed step-by-step description of each temple activity is recorded in the Bible for everyone -- Christian, Mormon, or Atheist to see. And it bears no resemblance to the Mormon Temple Ritual!

Mormons often answer that the reason the Temple ceremony should not be discussed in public is not because it is secret but because it is sacred. They maintain that theirs is not a secret ritual at all but simply a "sacred ceremony."

Sacred Or Secret?

The error of this view can readily be seen in comparing the difference between the words "secret" and "sacred."

Christians consider the Bible to be a Sacred Book and not a secret book. Therefore they want everyone in the world to read it, Christians and non-Christians. Because it is a sacred book, it is translated into thousands of languages and made available to the general public.

Similarly, Mormons consider the Book of Mormon to be a sacred book and not a secret book. Like Christians distributing Bibles, Mormons spend millions each year translating the Book of Mormon, printing tens of thousands of copies and distributing it to the public (often free of charge), that all may see its teachings -- Mormon and non-Mormon alike. By their actions, Latter-day Saints have shown they believe the Book of Mormon is a sacred book and that its teachings should be made open and available to the public.

But the Temple Ceremony is not "sacred" like the Book of Mormon with its teachings open to the public for evaluation and acceptance. Instead it is secret -- closed to even most Mormons where its occultic roots and anti-Christian doctrines can remain hidden.

Neither Sacred Nor Secret

Due to former Mormons who have published transcripts of the Temple ceremonies (like Jerald and Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Mission and in the film "The Godmakers" by Ed Decker and Jeremiah Films) the secret Mormon temple ritual is no longer really a secret -- or at least a well-kept one. It has been published that all may see it for what it is.

I believe that part of the duty of ministries like Watchman Fellowship is to expose those hidden things of darkness and to reveal the oaths, ceremonies and teachings of the LDS Temple so that Mormons and non-Mormons alike can evaluate its message and choose for themselves whether it is secret or sacred.
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