Thursday, March 22, 2007

Mormon Temple Recommend Questions

Lately, I've been teaching the temple preparation class in my ward. A few weeks ago, we were discussing the process of obtaining a temple recommend. I mentioned that I had a list of questions from 1857 and the class thought it would be fun to see and discuss them. The questions are instructive and give us a sense of the efforts of Church leaders in teaching the people to walk a godly life. I'm fascinated by the whole concept of a recommend interview and the fact that the individual seeking the recommend is the one who does most of the judging. While it's true that occasionally a bishop or stake president might be troubled by an occasional applicant's perceptions or commitment, the individual determines whether or not he pays a full tithe, is morally clean and abides by the standards of discipleship. It reminds me of Paul's instruction regarding participation in the Lord's supper: "But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." (1 Corinthians 11:28)

As with today's questions, these from Brigham Young's day were designed to address real problems including honesty, morality, and even personal hygiene. I have to admit that once or twice I've thought about asking an applicant the one that says, "Do you wash your body and have your family do so, as often as health and cleanliness require and circumstances will permit?" I'm also glad not to have to answer "Have you borrowed anything that you have not returned, or paid for?" Perhaps we all ought to give these another look:


Have you committed murder by shedding innocent blood, or consenting thereto?
Have you betrayed your brethren or sisters in anything?
Have you committed adultery, by having any connection with a woman that was not your wife, or a man that was not your husband?
Have you taken and made use of property not your own, without the consent of the owner?
Have you cut hay where you had no right to, or turned your animals into another person’s grain or field, without his knowledge and consent?
Have you lied about or maliciously misrepresented any person or thing?
Have you borrowed anything that you have not returned, or paid for?
Have you borne false witness against your neighbor?
Have you taken the name of Deity in vain?
Have you coveted anything not your own?
Have you been intoxicated with strong drink?
Have you found lost property and not returned it to the owner, or used all diligence to do so?
Have you branded an animal that you did not know to be your own?
Have you taken another’s horse or mule from the range and rode it, without the owner's consent?
Have you fulfilled your promises in paying your debts, or run into debt without prospect of paying?
Have you taken water to irrigate with, when it belonged to another person at the time you used it?
Do you pay your tithing promptly?
Do you teach her family the gospel of salvation?
Do you speak against your brethren, or against any principle taught in the Bible, Book of Mormon, book of Doctrine and Covenants, revelations given to Joseph Smith the Prophet and the Presidency of the Church as now organized?
Do you pray in your family night and morning and attend to secret prayer?
Do you wash your body and have your family do so, as often as health and cleanliness require and circumstances will permit?
Do you labor six days and rest, or go to the house of worship, on the seventh?
Do you preside over your household as a servant of God, and is your family subject to you?
Have you labored diligently and earned faithfully the wages paid you by your employers?
Do you oppress the hireling in his wages?
Have you taken up and converted any stray animal to your own use, or in any manner appropriated one to your benefit, without accounting therefore to the proper authorities?

In answer to the above questions, let all men and women confess to the persons they have injured and make restitution, or satisfaction. And when catechizing the people, the Bishops, Teachers, Missionaries and other officers in the Church are not at liberty to pry into sins that are between a person and his or her God; but let each person confess to the proper authority, that the adversary may not have an opportunity to take advantage of human weaknesses, and thereby destroy souls.


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Anonymous Jay said...

Wow! I don't think I would like to be a member back then. The questions are far more probing than today's questions.

5/18/07, 10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did they have temple recommend questions twenty years before they had a temple?

11/10/07, 7:47 AM  
Blogger Alma said...

The Endowment House began operation in 1855, and members had to be authorized to attend it as well.

11/11/07, 6:51 AM  
Anonymous J. Stapley said...

This is what is typically referred to as the catechism employed during the Mormon Reformation. See: Paul H. Peterson, "The Mormon Reformation of 1856-1857: The Rhetoric and the Reality," Journal of Mormon History 15 (Spring 1989): 59-87, which is available freely on the UU Digital Archive.

10/14/08, 1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for your post~ I just got back from my recommend interview with the Stake President. I am very OCD and my IQ is 145, and so the poor stake president tries to keep us on track as I confess my green tea drinking and the fact that I find many other Mormon women boring, and I feel like I need to humble myself for my intellectual pride. (seriously!, no kidding) I sometimes get nervous and say foolish things. Like tonight I said "I feel more comfortable with the High Priests, then with the Relief Society"LOL. My husband is an Physician and High Priest:) so at least I speak the truthLOL kittywaymo/sheila

7/13/10, 7:29 PM  
Blogger jerry and Toinette said...

Those question were correct for the time they were being ask. Those little people would think we were all in very deep trouble if they were around today and seen our world.
Lets face it we are in trouble, durgs, gay and on and on.
Maybe we should answer to more personal questions ourselves.

7/5/11, 1:39 PM  

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