This is a long post, if you are irritated by explanations of a former uber religious lifestyle, and an attempt to describe how said lifestyle is made to feel “normal”, this post is not for you.
[quote author=“dlsmith”]I did a Google search and read a couple of pages and all I can say is that after I finally stopped laughing, two sayings come to mind: “A fool and his money are soon parted” and “Some people will believe anything.” This is proof beyond reproach.
dlsmith, if you’d like to plumb deeper into that world, consider that each person who chooses to don the underwear first must strip down naked in a 4’x4’ screened booth in a segregated by sex bathroom environment, there is carpet and wallpaper so it’s not like it’s a lockerroom per se.
Quick clarifier. One must be at least 18 years old and wait one year after their baptism before they can “qualify” to put the underwear on and make the more serious (read: hard core) temple covenants. Some say this is because a year of basic church attendance is needed to condition the new convert’s mind. Others (read: the faithful) will say that the covenants are so sacred that the new convert must really be sure he wants to live as a mormon for life prior to the temple experience. Being mormon can be demanding and difficult.
Anyways, so you strip down inside the temple basement and they have you wear a loose flowing cotton fiber smock with the sides completely open. Why are the sides open with your jibblies hanging out? Yes, the jibblies hang out. I kept having to pull the sides in as I walked towards the ritual booth (modesty demanded it). The loose flowing smock is wide open so that prior to receiving the underwear, one can be washed clean from the blood and sins of this generations… and then each part of the body consecrated with oil out of a ram’s horn to do the work of god (serve in his kingdom, bear up righteous children, and donate one’s time talents and everything else he may be blessed with to building up “Zion”).
There is usually an older fellow for the guys and a female for the women who reaches in to the smock and touches shoulders, mouth, eyes, ears, heart, chest, bowels, loins, legs, hands and pronounces a blessing on each part. The loins part. I don’t recall anyone fondling me or my jibblies. The touch was, for me, more on my thigh than my jibblies. But you can easily see a more reserved (paranoid…) person freaking out at this point.
sidebar note: nobody told me that I would be waltzing naked through the men’s portion of the temple basement prior to me entering the temple that day. It was a complete shock to me. But my dad, my best friend’s dad, my bishop, my grandfather, my uncle were all there to witness my special day and I trusted them completely and explicitly. None of it made sense to me, but they all did it and in time, perhaps, it would jive with my brain one day.
So. Exactly after this washing and annointing happens, the old codger who just got done touching nearly every part of you opens up the underwear and basically dresses you in them. He asks you to step into the bottom parts and slip into the tops. Then you are free to go.
That is the ritual, as it happened to me nearly 20 years ago. I wore them for 18 years every day and every night, even while I played sports, rode my bike. The garments were pronounced and ingrained into me as a protection from physical harm and a spiritual haven of safety… as they would remind me of the sacred nature of my covenants with my god.
To be fair, this church has since excised the naked touching part of this ritual. I am told that now they just touch your body over your clothes and then privately you go and put your own underwear on. That is a vast improvement and will seriously decrease the pegged redlinings found on the creep-out-o-meter for many new Mormons converting into that religion. I gather that is why they changed it. Newbies could not hang with this level of hard core more often than not.
The problem I have with changing the ceremony, is that Joseph Smith, after he instituted this ritual and a dozen others in 1835, declared or claimed that Jesus Christ himself declared that the rituals were perfect and would never change. Then 175 years later, when converts started complaining and baptismal rates began to decline or I should say… attrition rates began to escalate among those members who eventually decided to go and get the underwear put on them… the church did a survey about what bothered these people the most and this is one response they received.
Changing that ritual is a clear indication that this church is not what it claims it to be. In 1990 they changed other parts of the more external covenant making ritual by eliminating the gruesome pantomiming of ones own three way suicide. We used to have to, in a group setting being led by church authorities, make promises to serve the mormon god and if we revealed the nature of this covenant we would suffer our lives to be taken. This was emphasized by us mock slitting our throats by drawing our thumbs across it—palm extended flat out and downward, likewise would we mock slit our bellies and our chest as part of the penalty we would exact if we revealed our covenants with god with the wrong people. That was removed. Among other things.
I’ve revealed it now. Others have too. Do you see me running out to slit my own throat? Very bizarre as to why that needed to be part of the ceremony. My research on the subject lead me to discover that much of this ritual and other parts of it were plagerized from Free Masonry. The masonic parallels cannot be overlooked (but apparently, they are indeed overlooked and no amount of showing devout mormons this link has hardly any affect on their level of commitment). History shows us that Joseph Smith became a Free Mason as did his brother and father. Many of his cadre also were Free masons. Freemasonry fraternal groups and lodges were a relatively big deal back then. History also shows us that not even a year later, the mormon temple ritual was institued. Smith explained that Freemasonry held much of the lost art of covenant making with god that god instituted way back in the day of Adam and Eve. Of course, throughout the ages and with the lack of revelation, that art had become corrupted and Smith, through revelation, restored the art of covenant making to it’s full and proper methodology. Hmmm… indeed.
But if you tell people Jesus revealed this ceremony…
So. I know you can see it from the get go… how over the top it all is, dlsmith, but you lack the conditioning and the struggle to gain a mormon testimony all of your young life. You lack the influence of all of your peers ever preparing you to one day enter the temple and make covenants with god. I was conditioned from age 5 to believe that the temple was the holiest location on earth—a place where jesus walked the halls today—and I should do everything in my power to qualify to go there (and thus put on the underwear and make other serious covenants of fealty to the mormon god). It took little observations like this to erode my confidence in the Mormon exclusivity claim. Ironically, if the church had not changed parts of it’s past that had already been decreed “unmovable, fixed and forevermore” by Jesus Christ himself, I’d probably still be a devotee.
This little note might help you see the power of conditioning. You laugh, and that is fine… actually a failry normal response. I am hopeful that you will discover that it is actually quite easy for someone to join mormonism or any other extreme religious group and find all of it “holy” and/ or “sacred”. Once you buy into the fact that god is behind it all… very easy indeed.
A lengthy post, but truly the reader’s digest version of it.