Written by an
anonymous LDS woman:
It's been over
two decades since I went to the temple for my endowment
in 1989. I was 20 years-old and went through the temple
the day before I got married. It was the Washington, D.C.
remember not knowing much about what the endowment was.
I knew I would make covenants with God, and I had been told
about the temple garments. My bishop's wife took me to purchase
my first garments at the store, and told me to bring them,
unopened, to the temple in a bag. I was mostly excited about
getting married, and nervous about having sex, and not overly
concerned with the temple rituals. I just wanted to get
it over with so I could get married the next day.
my fiancé’s first time to the temple as well.
He was a one-year convert. I remember the temple was so
beautiful: huge and white and a beautiful pool outside.
The leaves were turning and the sky was blue. When I got
inside I was nervous. It was a big place. Funny, I don't
even remember who all came with me. I think a lady from
my ward came to sort of guide me through it.
I went into the locker room and was asked to take off all
my clothes and put a big white sheet over my head. It was
open on the sides, and I was cold, and very self-conscious.
I thought, gee, what is this?
they took me into a little booth thing and sat me on a cold
stool. The old lady whispered the blessing in my ear. I
was dizzy from nervousness, and was really surprised when
she forgave my sins and said I was "clean every whit."
Wow, I had no idea that happened again after baptism! And
I didn't know women could forgive sins. It was all mind-boggling.
I didn't like it when she ran her hands over my body with
oil and water. It felt strange and immodest to me. But I
accepted it as God's will. Soon she had my garments in her
hands. She held open the bottoms for me to step into. It
was so weird, having an old woman hold my underwear and
pull them up for me. I felt... stupid. Childish. Ridiculous.
I don't even remember how she got the tops on me.
(Note: The above
Washing and Anointing gospel ordinance was significantly
changed in January 2005 - see
here for details.)
along the line, after I got out of the booth I think, and
changed into a white temple dress (and was grateful for
the coverage), someone pinned some little papers onto me.
One said OWN ENDOWMENT and another said my name. I had the
little "packet" cloth pouch thing with all of
the robes and veil and apron folded up inside and I felt
odd carrying it. All the stuff was rented at the temple;
I only had my own garments.
old lady took me aside and gave me a secret "new name"
and I was a nervous wreck that I would forget it, and asked
her to repeat it. It was Hagar. What an ugly name. I hated
it. And I was angry at its implications: Abraham's second
wife that he cast off, the one who was not the wife of his
heart. I was becoming a second wife to my husband, who had
been married before...was this a sign?
remember much else about how I got to the endowment room.
I don't remember a lot except how weird my fiancée
looked in that hat, and why was it tied to his shoulder?
I hated getting out the robes and trying to get them on
in time. There were so many people. I had someone helping
me tie my robes and stuff but it was awkward. The movie
was ok, but trying to get all the handshakes and passwords
right was nerve wracking. Why did I have to take off my
slippers and put them back on again when we changed the
robes from left to right shoulder? I was so confused, nothing
made sense, but I tried to just get through it. Everyone
was smiling and happy, and I was flushed and embarrassed.
of course, they had the “true order of prayer.”
And of course, being my own endowment I was dragged up there
with my fiancée to chant “Pay Lay Ale”
with a veil over my face. I felt so strange. I couldn't
I also remember, all the many times I was told to "bow
your head and say yes." I felt slapped into submission.
Obey your husband. Yes. (It
was the pre-1990 endowment) The promises of never revealing,
and the suffering my life to be taken; the throat slitting
and disemboweling gestures. I think I went mind-numb. It
was unthinkable, so I didn't think.
we were at the veil. I couldn't remember a single thing.
The old lady told me all the answers. I shoved my inner
knee against my fiancé’s, I pressed my chest
to his and felt his breath on my ear through the veil, his
arm on my back, my breast touching him. After I said the
magic words and gave the secret handshakes, my fiancé,
speaking for the Lord from the other side of the veil, said
"Let her enter." No "welcome home" no
"I love you my daughter." Just a "Let her
the heck was it with the mallets hanging on poles? Why did
they knock 3 times and God asks what is wanted? Isn't God
I was in the celestial room with my fiancé and my
ward members who attended. I was exhausted. It was white
and whiter. I just wanted to go home.
to the dressing room and saw myself in a full-length mirror
in robes, veil and green apron. I couldn't bear to look.
I just had to get changed and forget it ever happened, and
look forward to getting married the next day.
so numbed by the experience that although my husband pleaded,
I refused (with excuses) to go back for another endowment
session for 5 months. When I did go back, the death oaths
were gone. A
lot of the endowment had changed. No more death-oaths or
Protestant minister serving Satan. And they’d
changed the chant “Pay Lay Ale” to “Oh
God, hear the words of my mouth.” It was easier to
I won't ever forget that first time.
day after I was endowed, I was sealed to my husband in the
Washington DC temple. I had pretty much sufficiently blocked
out the initiatory and endowment ceremony from the previous
day. I just wanted to get married.
I was a convert, I had no Mormon relatives. To say they
were hurt that they were not invited to my wedding would
be a gross understatement. My Catholic aunts and cousins
asked me why they weren't "good enough" to go
inside the temple. They wanted to know how their presence
would defile God's house. I was immature and unconcerned
and just told them they didn't know enough to understand
the temple ceremony. Ugh. My mother wouldn’t have
come to my wedding anyway, but my father... oh it still
haunts me to this day, the pain it must have caused him
to miss my wedding. His only child, his little girl, got
married and he wasn't there. He wasn't even invited. And
he died a month later. It still breaks my heart. I know
he adored me.
was a convert, too, so he had no Mormon relatives either.
His brothers and sisters were quite unhappy. He had been
married before, and they had been part of the big fancy
church wedding. I still think to this day that one reason
they never warmed up to me or got close to me was because
they were uninvited from our wedding. My husband's parents,
poor folks, came to the temple grounds and waited outside
in the November chill. My husband had children from his
first marriage, but there was no consent for them to be
sealed to us, so they, too, waited outside in the cold while
their father and I got married, practically alone, surrounded
by a few token ward members I barely knew.
purchased a beautiful, white lacy beaded wedding gown. It
was very long and I carried the train over my arm. When
I went into the bride's room, I didn't have my sisters or
my mother or my best friends there to help me. Some old
temple matron helped me with my dress and my hair and my
veil. It was very quiet, and I was very lonely. It didn't
feel at all like a celebration, but maybe I felt special
or sacred, that I was sacrificing a big wedding for what
mattered: an eternal family. I had to wear the endowment
robes, sash, and green apron over my dress. I felt silly
and I looked silly. I didn't look like any bride I had ever
seen or the ones in the magazines. There weren't any flowers.
I didn't even have a maid of honor.
I got into the sealing room. It was small and the walls
were lined with chairs. Ward members were sitting there
but no family, no friends. There was a huge chandelier hanging
over an altar in the center of the little room. There was
my fiancé, in his green apron, slippers, and baker's
cap tied to his shoulder. This was not what I had envisioned!
We were instructed to kneel across from each other at this
altar, which was cushioned for our knees. I was so nervous.
Everyone was so excited because the temple president had
"popped in" and offered to marry us. We were supposed
to be awestruck or something, having this stranger in high
places marry us, I guess.
knelt there at the altar, the temple president gave a little
speech, about our worthiness. He made some comments about
chastity that made me blush. He talked about how special
it was, and how blessed we would be, and the babies we would
have. He told us to grip each other across the altar in
the “Patriarchal Grip” – a secret handshake
I had learned the day before that I needed to know in order
to enter heaven.
he did the ceremony. All we had to say was, Yes. Then we
were married, that was it. Kneeling in green aprons and
a baker's cap, gripping each other in a weird handshake,
saying yes, and the wedding was over. We stood up, he gave
me a quick kiss. Then we quickly stuck the rings on each
other's hands, as the rings were not part of the ceremony.
The temple sealer told us to look into the mirrors and see
eternity. We stood side by side, holding hands, and peered
into the wall of mirrors. I didn't see eternity. I saw hundreds
on hundred of images of myself and my new husband in green
aprons and a baker's cap. I looked away.
that it was over, I went back to the dressing room and took
off the temple garb. Then we went outside to have some pictures
taken in front of the temple. His parents and the kids were
waiting outside in the cold. They took a few snapshots of
us by the fountain, and in the Visitor’s Center by
the big statue of Jesus. Then we went back inside and changed
into regular church clothes.
believe I accepted this as a "wedding." We went
to my husband's aunt's home for lunch and cake, and his
family was there to congratulate us. It was no big deal.
Then we went on our honeymoon.
we came back we did have a "reception" at our
home, with a real wedding cake and a meat and cheese tray,
and lots of people from the ward came and brought gifts.
My husband and I dressed in a tux and the wedding dress
and stood there letting people walk through and shake our
hands. My husband's parents and sister came. One of my aunts
and some cousins came. My father came. It was heartbreaking.
I still hurt thinking I excluded him like that, and I only
saw him one more time before he died.
married in the temple is not the wonderful, sweet, spiritual
experience the church makes it out to be. It is a weak excuse
for a wedding and it is the first step in alienating the
new couple from all their non-Mormon family and friends.
should have to go through this stuff without knowing ahead
of time what they are "choosing" to do.
Read One Man's First Temple
(and responses from other members)