A dear friend of mine asked me a question about my last post, and I am going to try to answer it here. There is a huge, long answer that I could try to give, involving all kinds of things, including the history of the temple, how Joseph Smith handled it, commands given by the Lord about it, changes made to the ceremonies and ordinances, experiences and revelations the Lord has given me about it, etc. I probably will want to post about at least some of those things as I go along with this blog (some I have already discussed a bit in earlier posts), but it is too much at the moment, so I will try to give the short answer (short is relative for me, as most of my posts fall into the “too long, didn’t read” category, I am afraid 🙂 ).
First of all, let me say that I believed I understood the Baptism of Fire before the experience I related in my last post. But what I understood, from what I had been taught in the Church for almost 4 decades was much more nebulous than the truth of it. And, as I mentioned, I didn’t call the experience a Baptism of Fire for a long time. My understanding of it was certainly unclear, until after I had experienced it.
The very short answer to the question of why, if the experience came related to me going to the temple, do I “participate in activities that will deny you the blessings of the temple,” is that the experience really had nothing to do with the physical building we call a Temple. Also, I take exception to the assertion that I “participate in activities that will deny you the blessings of the temple.” But that is because I view the whole question of the Temple and it’s purpose much differently than most members of the Church.
When I had this experience in 2011, the physical Temple building was a very holy place to me. I went often. The drive from my house then to the Temple was close to 5 hours one way. I occasionally made the trip alone, but at the time I was quite ill with Lyme disease, and it was extremely difficult for me to do that. I also often went with friends to the temple. But during this particular period of time, when I was so very focused on doing the Lord’s will, I did have such a strong desire to be in a holy place, that I went whenever I could.
The Lord works with us where we are. He speaks to us in our own language, which I don’t think only means the actual words we use, but also through experiences we are familiar with and in a way that will help us understand within the paradigm we are in at the moment. He can only break us out of false paradigms, if He first meets us in the paradigm we are in. BUT, I think it is very important to point out that He won’t force us. If we are comfortable where we are, and do not ask for more (maybe not even thinking we need any more) then He will usually let us be where we are. And if we fear, he will not force. Agency is so important, He will not infringe on ours. And so we have the command all throughout the scriptures that we must ASK, SEEK, and KNOCK. When we do that, we give the Lord permission to teach us, to shatter our false paradigms if need be.
One of the major things about the whole experience I related in the last post was that it began many hours before I was at the temple, continued while I was there, and then continued for days afterwards. There was no difference in the experience while I was in the physical Temple building than when I was in the car, or in my house, or anywhere else I was during those days. I expected there to be a difference while I was in the temple, but there was not.
I have since had at least one days long experience that was the same intensity, and I was not in the Temple building at all during that. I have had profound spiritual experiences that have been similar to each other in the Temple building, on mountains, in my bedroom, in my living room, in my car, in my shower, etc. I have learned many things from the Temple ceremony. The main thing being that we are supposed to be progressing along until we are brought through the veil (in this life) and see the Lord face to face. That does not only happen in the Temple.
The Temple building is a symbol. The Temple covenants and teachings are invitations to come to the Lord and receive the real thing. I realize that view is different than what most all members of the Church believe. Although if we really think about what is taught about the Temple ordinances, and all things we do in this life that we hope will endure, we realize we are taught that they must be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise to be of force. I have received the invitations, and I am seeking for the real things from the Lord.
The Temple building is a symbol of our own bodies.
I Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
The reason I am not allowed by the Church to enter the temples now is because I have done what the Lord has asked me to do. Sacrifice has been required to do what the Lord has asked of me. Things I would not have chosen of myself have been asked, but I do not regret any of it, because what the Lord has given me in return has been so much greater. I asked Him for truth, and to be given it as fast as I can bear it, and He has been doing that. I wish my capacity were greater so I could progress faster. One of my friends told me to pray to be “bigger” so I could handle more faster :).
I realize that most members of the Church believe that the Lord would not ask something of me that would result in me not being able to enter the Temple, and even not being a member. But believing that is setting up stakes for the Lord and deciding for Him what He might ask a person to do. I testify that He has asked these things of me. And the confirmation I have felt about these decisions is the same confirmation I felt when I was 15 and He told me to join the Church. And all I can do is testify of that. I cannot prove to anyone in any other way that I am not deceived in what I have done, at least as pertains to my membership in the Church. I do not claim to have never been deceived. We are all deceived sometimes. It is part of the process of learning about opposition in all things. If we never experience deception, we can’t begin to learn the difference between deception and truth.
So, my answer to my wonderful friend is, I am not separated from the Temple. I am not allowed in the Church’s Temple buildings any more. But I went enough throughout the years that I can pretty much recite what goes on there, including the things that were there when I first went through in 1978 and have since been removed. I received the invitation from the Lord there. And I continue to seek the fulfillment of all that I was invited to receive. I live in the actual Temple, my own body. And I look forward to the day when the Lord will “suddenly come to His temple.”
Now, let me say also that I do believe the Lord commands some Temple buildings to be built. For instance, I do believe He commanded the Nauvoo Temple to be built so that He could actually come to that Temple and meet the people there. If you read my first post on this blog, you will see some of the reasons and evidences why I think the members failed at doing that, and so He never came to that Temple. I think what we have had in the Temple buildings since then is instruction and invitation. When a people fails in seeing the Lord or doing whatever He has asked, that does not preclude individuals from rising up and receiving everything the Lord has for them. But as a people, we fail. As a people, we almost always fail. Zion is very, very rarely established. What is happening now is what almost always happens. It is to be expected and has been prophesied in our own scripture. But we generally cannot see it.
I do believe at some point the Lord will again command a physical Temple to be built where His people can come and as a group actually see and commune with Him face to face.