My friend ajbc is writing a series of posts on how she would answer the temple recommend interview questions given unlimited nuance, honesty, reflection, and time. I thought these would be interesting to cross-post on ZD to start the conversation: how would you answer the questions if you were being fully transparent beyond your yes/no answer?
The LDS temple interview is an interesting process to me. We’re expected to give relatively short answers to fifteen questions, but I feel like some of them require more elaborate answers. For the sake of the interviewers, I spare them the ten-hour monologue that would be required to give them the full picture of my faith. While I’ve thought through each of the fifteen questions, I’ve wanted to record a written answer to each of them. This is the first post in a series in which I will answer each with varying degrees of verbosity.
Question 1: Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?
I have faith in God; my most honest prayers are Teyve-style. I do not know if God is male, female, both, or neither, but I’ve prayed to each one. Because of my upbringing, praying to a male or joint-gender god (Heavenly Mother and Father) is most comfortable for me. More fundamentally, I do not know that God exists, but I have had experiences that feel like they come from a divine source. I have prayed particularly about the existence and nature of deity, and received ambiguous (but comforting) experiences that allow my otherwise hyper-rational self to have faith in God, without firm knowledge of his/her/its existence or nature. I don’t know if God is embodied, but I find that perfectly reasonable, given that I hope for an embodied afterlife. I am comfortable talking about my faith in God and its complexities (as made obvious by this post), and consider that to qualify as a testimony.
My faith in Jesus Christ is inherently tied to my understanding of the Atonement, so I’ll leave most of my discussion of that for the next post. I believe that Jesus lived as a real person, and taught the principles, if not the same parables, that are recorded in the gospels. I believe that it’s possible that he is the son of God as we are all children of God, but that he played the role of Savior, advocating on our behalves and acting in some sort of pre- and post-mortal leadership role. While my faith in God is stronger than my faith in a divine Jesus Christ (the former is intrinsically more general), I would be comfortable explaining the gospel of Christ and testifying of the role it has played in my life.
While the Holy Ghost is arguable the member of the Godhead with whom we are in most direct contact, I feel that I know the least about him/her/it. The Holy Ghost could have some connection to Heavenly Mother, but my hunch is that she is too important to play spiritual courier and instead conveys her love and messages to us through the Holy Ghost, as does Heavenly Father. I’ve never prayed about the Holy Ghost–I think of it more as a medium for spiritual communication than something I need to ask God about. It’s a little like calling your folks up and asking, “Can you tell me that this phone is working?” after you’ve asked “Are you there?” Thus, my faith in and testimony of the Holy Ghost is very much wrapped up in my faith in God, as I think it’s supposed to be.
For doctrine relating to the Godhead or anything else, I strongly prefer to keep any of my now rare proclamations of spiritual witness or testimony (of this or any doctrine) to audiences eager to hear such affirmations. On the other hand, I am much more comfortable talking about my pragmatic involvement in the LDS church.
In the end, my simple answer to this question is “Yes,” sparing the poor interviewers my long-windedness every two years–they probably would rather be home with their kids.