Question: Why is confidentiality associated with the temple ordinances?

Table of Contents

Question: Why is confidentiality associated with the temple ordinances?

The LDS temple ceremony was, and still is, considered to be sacred, and was not to be exposed to the view or discussion of outsiders

Joseph Smith was of the view that some of the Saints were not good at keeping religious confidences:

The reason we do not have the secrets of the Lord revealed unto us, is because we do not keep them but reveal them; we do not keep our own secrets, but reveal our difficulties to the world, even to our enemies, then how would we keep the secrets of the Lord? I can keep a secret till Doomsday. [1]

A few of the early leaders of the Church pointed out that one of the aims of Masonry was to teach adherents proper respect for promises of confidentiality. [2] For instance,

  • Joseph Smith: "The secret of Masonry is to keep a secret." [3]
  • Brigham Young: "The main part of Masonry is to keep a secret." [4]

This institutionalized Masonic principle was a trait that would be necessary for the Saints to incorporate into their lives once they were endowed, because certain elements of the temple ritual were considered to be very sacred and were not to be divulged to the uninitiated. This may be the key for understanding why the Prophet encouraged so many of the Nauvoo-era Saints to join the Masonic brotherhood.

Notes

  1. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 194–195, (19 December 1841). off-site Direct off-site; see also History of the Church, 4:478–479. Volume 4 link
  2. See footnote 20 of Matthew B. Brown, "Of Your Own Selves Shall Men Arise, Review of The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship by David John Buerger," FARMS Review of Books 10/1 (1998): 97–131. off-site
  3. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 329. off-site{15 October 1843)
  4. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 5:418, (22 January 1860, spelling standardized). ISBN 0941214133.