Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaching About the Temple (YW Lesson 18: Temple Marriage)

Last Sunday I had the wonderful opportunity to teach on the temple. I got permission from our YW president to discuss the initiatory and endowment as well as temple marriage during this lesson. As it turned out, it was a great lead-up and context for talking about marriage. It was a whirl-wind 30 minute version of things, but I think it went well, and I wanted to share what I did in case any part of it is helpful to those of you teaching now or in the future. A lot of it came as I went, which I really like. So I don't really recommend trying to copy what I did. But I thought it might open up some different ideas for you for your own lessons:

1. I started by writing on the board "baptism" in the left corner (leaving room so eventually the words baptism, initiatory, endowment, and sealing/marriage would fit across the top).

2. Then under "baptism" I wrote "Mosiah 18:10." We went there together and I read verses 8-9 quickly, and made sure they knew the context. Then we read verse 10 carefully. I emphasized (as a sort of review from last week), that they already had these desires, so "what had they against" being baptized? The ordinance was a natural outflow, or a response to their desires and the covenant they had made. I wrote up "What have ye against?" on the board under Mosiah 18:10. We talked about how for Alma this was more of a rhetorical question, but for us, it's an honest one: if we have these desires, and those match up with an ordinance such as baptism, there might still be something standing in our way. It's okay to have concerns and to talk about them to get them out. That's what missionaries do - they say, "I think you've felt something and you like this, but what's keeping you from being baptized?" What have ye against it? Let's work this out.

We also wrote on the board "more abundantly." I emphasized the pattern that the people had already felt the Spirit, so what had they against having the Spirit more? Same with us, if we have felt the Spirit and like that feeling, don't we want to have more of it?

3. I next wrote "temple" over the other 3/4 of the board. And now I added "initiatory" "endowment" and "sealing/marriage" across the top.

4. I wanted to give some general vision of the temple first, and then I let the girls decide what to focus on. So to give the general idea, I had them go to Abraham 1:2. While someone read it out loud, I wrote up on the board a few key phrases from it: "follower of righteousness" "desiring great knowledge" "greater follower of righteousness" "greater knowledge." I shared my testimony that that is what the temple is all about. We've made one covenant (baptism) and received a great blessing (spirit). If we desire more of that Spirit and more knowledge, then let's go to the temple. We talked about that idea for a bit, and drew in the idea of having the Spirit even "more abundantly."

5. Like I mentioned, from here I encouraged them to ask questions. I didn't mind picking a direction for them but I wanted to see what they had questions about. One girl wanted to know what "initiatory" was. First we explained the word (initiate, begin, introduce, etc.) I wrote up the words "washings and anointings" under initiatory, since that phrase is used often enough. I also wrote the word "garment" with those words. I wrote up "blessings!" under those too because I just love how it's filled with blessing after blessing.

I asked them when else they had been anointed with holy oil on their heads, and they all right away thought about receiving a blessing when they were sick. I mostly emphasized that in that blessing, receiving the oil is in preparation for the blessing they are about to receive, and in the temple, being anointed is in preparation for the endowment - that's how important the endowment is!

I also reassured some of them that the garment is explained there, with a definite context. And that it's also discussed in the endowment again.

6. We didn't talk much about the endowment (remember I had 30 minutes total!), so I was quick to emphasize that 1, the word means "gift," like an endowment of money to a university or the national endowment for the arts, etc. 2, That in this case, it was a "gift of knowledge, gift of covenant, gift of the Spirit" (I wrote that up under endowment.) That was a nice way to wrap together our discussion to that point.

I (and a few other leaders) were quite sure to emphasize the importance of the initiatory and endowment regardless of marital status or home situation. We emphasized that this is an individual ordinance.

I let them know that in this ordinance they will learn about Adam and Eve, how they are like Adam and Eve, and how we all get back to Heavenly Father. Just like Alma asked his people if they wanted to be God's people, have eternal life, etc., I think we'd all like to know how we can get back to God's presence! Once that was clear (I hope) then I pointed out again that this is something we all want - I told them that I have friends who married a non-member, or who were inactive for a while, or who joined the church later on in life, and many of them think the temple is not for them. But look! Look at what it's about: greater knowledge, greater Spirit! Learning about Adam and Eve and how they got back to Heavenly Father, and how we get back. That's something for each of us! And how I wished I could explain that to them. So I made them promise they'd all go someday and make sure their friends went, even if the "ideal" situation didn't happen, for whatever reason!

(I also mentioned they could go to Alma 12 to read more, too!)

7. Then, after all of this we had like 7 minutes left. I used the same little phrase from earlier to set up a perspective on marriage: If you like the Spirit from baptism, and you make more covenants in the temple and like the Spirit there, then "what have ye against" making another covenant and receiving even more knowledge and more of the Spirit? I really liked jumping into this part of the lesson that way. (A very different perspective than just "here's marriage outside the temple" versus "marriage inside the temple.")

To get things rolling in just my last few minutes, I then drew a line from the bottom of the "baptism" column all the way to the part of the board under marriage. Then I just asked them, "After all of this, how would this affect the way you saw the sealing ordinance? You can't get sealed without first being endowed, so how does that change things? (Based on what little we've talked about here)?" That opened up a nice (though short) discussion on perspective. It was here that we also realized that the endowment spends an hour and a half talking about Adam, AND Eve - then their relation to each other, and to God. Then I drew a quick stick-figure version of two people across an altar with a sealer next to them, and emphasized that idea again: Adam and Eve's relation to each other (circling two of the stick figures), and to God (arrows now to the stick-figure sealer). To me it was a great way of seeing how the endowment is a preparation for the sealing, or rather, how the sealing is meant to be understood in the context of the rest of the temple ordinances.

8. To finish up the marriage part, I pointed out that even if we could go straight from baptism to marriage they'd be awesome - they had the Spirit, they were followers of righteousness, etc. But wow, what have they against receiving the endowment first, and then becoming wives and mothers? And after that, I asked them, And if that's pretty awesome, imagine two of you who have made covenants, and who "get" it, working together in a marriage? That's pretty amazing. It's worth not settling; it's worth finding someone who's actually worthy and faithful to all of this, who wants to be a greater follower of righteousness and have greater knowledge. And imagine that put together with what knowledge you gain too! It's amazing. But also, if that doesn't happen for whatever reason, or it doesn't for a friend or whatever, you go to the temple and you make those covenants in the endowment. Get that greater Spirit and greater knowledge. It's so important! And, if I understand right, since we usually associate not just Adam and Eve with the temple blessings but Abraham himself, then I think we can think about his promise in Abraham 2:11 as well - he was promised that through him all the families of the earth would be blessed with the gospel. So perhaps we can apply that to us - if we get in the temple and make these covenants we become like Abraham and we too can bless the families of the earth, including our own. We can teach and bless and help others come to God. Why not go to the temple? What have we against going to the temple?

So that was my whirl-wind lesson and testimony. I think it went well and I hope they keep asking questions.

I wanted to share it in case any part of it was helpful to anyone. Plus, if any of you have ideas for other teachers on talks or scriptural passages, please share those too!!

(Photo downloaded from one of lds.org's multimedia resources archives.)


  1. This is really lovely the way you structured it. Beautifully done. Key: finding out what they wanted to know and what they did/didn't know, and building from the familiar to the new. Kudos.

  2. What would I do without these perspectives on these lessons. Your posts are fantastic.

  3. I just listened to a talk by Sis. Beck where she said this about temple ordinances: "some women I know postpone that crucial, empowering covenant thinking that somehow they are tied to serving a mission or marriage when in reality, a mission or marriage is an outflow of the endowment and not the other way around." (video here: http://byutv.org/watch/de76d699-ed55-4ac5-a6d0-0bf3e20cd2ce; quotation at about 6:55 or so)


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