A few months back, “Lawrence” raised an interesting question at BCC:
The temple covenants when my spouse and I took our endowments differ from the current covenants. When we are asked in an interview if we keep our temple covenants, does this refer to the covenants as they were for our endowments, or the covenants as they are today? Since subsequent endowment work is vicarious, I would think the covenants we took for ourselves would be in effect.
I’m not convinced there’s an “official” stance on this, because although the Church changes, I don’t think the Church has sufficient theological mechanisms in place for processing change, and this is one site in which the implications of change generally go unexamined. But how would you answer Lawrence’s very good question? Like him, I’m inclined to think we’re obligated to keep the covenants we ourselves actually made at a discrete moment in the past, and not their updated incarnations.
To extend this question further, what about the dead? Are they held eternally to the particular ceremony enacted when ordinances were performed on their behalf? In other words, are different exalted couples obligated to behave differently?
Finally, if an endowed member resigns her membership and later returns following changes to the ceremony, and then has her temple blessings “restored,” is she still bound by the earlier version of the ceremony? In other words, since temple blessings are “restored” and not “regranted,” for those who have been to the temple once already, is there no possible way to take advantage of potential future changes to the ceremony? (In my current understanding of the Church’s position this is indeed the case.)
(Of course, one way of resolving the issue is to deny that changes to the ceremony ever have any substance to them, which is to concede that “hearken” is the functional equivalent of “obey.”)
In another vein, is it possible to get a temple divorce without divorcing one’s spouse civilly?
And finally, what is the Church’s policy toward people without arms? Are they endowed and married by proxy?
- 23 March 2009