Monday, March 30, 2009

Sacred vs Secret

A couple weeks ago, the HBO series Big Love apparently showed portions of an endowment ceremony, part of the Mormon Temple ceremonies. When I was reading articles about this, many LDS member seemed upset, and one of the most common defenses I heard was that the ceremony "is not secret, but rather sacred". Thus meaning that because it is sacred, that it shouldn't be talked about. Well that just didn't make sense to me. Why does something being sacred mean you shouldnt discuss it. This is a very inconsistent rule to live by. I have heard many talks in church where people say that the sacrament is the most sacred of all ordinances, but we have no fear of talking about that, or recreating it in church movies, we even allow visitors to witness it.

It seems the less an ordinance is talked about, is more directly correlated to how unfamiliar the public is with the ordinance, or in other words, how weird or strange it is to them. The more wierd or strange, the less we talk about it. Whether or not the ordinance is sacred has little to do with talking about it. Baptism and the Sacrament are not strange to most people, they have seen similar ordiances in other religions, so it seems okay to openly discuss these, we even taught them early on in the missionary discussions. Baptisms for the Dead and Temple Marriage, a little more wierd, the average person is familiar with baptism and marriage, just not these "versions" of them, so we can talk somewhat about these ordinances openly, but not in too much detail. But the endowment and washings and annointings, now those are strange to the vast majority of people, they are not familiar with these at all, so they are not discussed. I think most LDS people are afraid to talk about them because they do seem odd. It is not as if the endowment is more sacred than temple marriage, or the sacrament, or baptism. The only difference is that it seems a bit more strange to an outsider, so LDS people don't want to seem strange, so you don't find out about those until after you are a member.

So I don't see how the "Sacred not secret" argument flies. People hold them sacred for sure, but there are many things that LDS people hold sacred that they are willing to openly discuss, like the Atonement or the First Vision. Now many will say that the reason they don't talk about these are because they are directed not to, but that is not what the temple cermony says. IT directs not to reveal certain specific things you do in the temple, not what the ceremony entails, and that is just in the endowment. From what I can recall, the washing and annointings has no direction for secretness, but nobody will openly discuss that. These ordianances are very sacred but, depending on how strange they seem, they are also very secretive.

And for the record, I did not see the episode of Big Love mentioned above.

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