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Changes to the Endowment Ordinance

"Over these many centuries, details associated with temple work have been adjusted periodically, including language, methods of construction, communication, and record-keeping. Prophets have taught that there will be no end to such adjustments as directed by the Lord to His servants." (1)

Yesterday, January 1st, I was notified by a friend about upcoming changes to the endowment presentation. He sent me the following post from Dr. Alonzo Gaskill, BYU Professor of Church History and Doctrine, (2):

Professor Gaskill quickly removed his comments; nonetheless, my interest was peaked. Recently, I have read two books that are a must read if one wants to understand the development of the temple ordinances. They are, as far as I am aware, the most authoritative on the subject. I provide them here for your convenience if you would like further reading on the topic:

Due to the sacredness of the ceremony, I will not go into too much detail about the changes implemented. I will sum up from what I have heard and seen:
  1. Eve has become a more prominent figure in the presentation.
  2. The covenants have been homogenized between men and women.
  3. Various lines have been added or taken out of the ceremony. (3)
It might not be a coincidence that the Church very recently released a series of short Youtube videos on the subject of the temple ordinances. One of those videos I have provided below:


The overall reactions I have seen have been very positive towards these changes, but I would like to put forth two different ideas for your consideration.


Modern biblical scholarship has done some wonderful and very interesting work in regards to what many in LDS circles call 'the Divine Feminine'. At the forefront of this is the work of Dr. Margaret Barker. In her work, being a Methodist minister who studied theology at the University of Cambridge, she suggests that the removal of the Divine Feminine occurred during King Josiah's reforms in the Old Testament (see 2 Kings chapters 22-23). In summation, Barker suggests that King Josiah purged the Queen of Heaven from the temple when he found the Book of the Law in the temple. It was shortly after this that Israel was destroyed because they forsook "the female personification of Wisdom" (4), Asherah. Barker has spoken of this in LDS circles and has been invited to BYU many times to speak of her findings. Here is just one example.

To extrapolate further, LDS scholars have done some fascinating work showing how Israel was divided on the issue of Deuteronomist reforms versus the 'Wisdom tradition' (5). This divide goes a long way in highlighting the interesting family dynamic of Lehi and Nephi versus Laman and Lemuel in the several opening chapters of The Book of Mormon. Lehi was possibly of the Wisdom tradition (which makes his vision of the tree of life that much more light intensive) while Laman and Lemuel tied themselves to the Deuteronomist tradition (which would explain why they viewed Jerusalem as righteous and ardent keepers of the Law but defied Lehi's visionary experiences). 

Why do I bring this up? 

I have felt for a while now that the Lord is preparing his people for the restoration of the Divine Feminine. Understanding that the restoration of the gospel is a growing, line upon line, crescendo, I have come to appreciate the idea of further light and knowledge on many subjects, but particularly this one.  

For example, not too long ago I had a slight nudging revelation when the Church released a new website devoted to helping Gay individuals. While reading this website I noticed the abundance of the use of the term 'Heavenly Parents' instead of 'Heavenly Father'. For further clarity, I turned to BYU's General Conference Corpus and had what I would call a 'mic drop moment'.

Look at the results in the image above! It shows the use of the term 'Heavenly Parents' used in every General Conference talk since the 1850s. It is very sparse and then skyrockets in our current decade! The drastic increase in the use of the term is axiomatic in its meaning. The Lord is preparing us for the restoration of many things, and one of those things is a greater understanding of the Queen of Heaven. 

And what better time to do so? The sexual revolution has brought many social issues to the forefront and it is my opinion that the Lord is going to slowly unveil the Divine Feminine to those who seek further light and knowledge. What better way to lay waste to the confusion surrounding gender, women's role, the nature of families, child rearing, and so forth than to unveil the Queen of Heaven?

"Yea, verily I say unto you, in that day when the Lord shall come, he shall reveal all things—
Things which have passed, and hidden things which no man knew, things of the earth, by which it was made, and the purpose and the end thereof—
Things most precious, things that are above, and things that are beneath, things that are in the earth, and upon the earth, and in heaven." (6)


For me, the line from the First Presidency statement today that was  the most interesting was the following:

"Prophets have taught that there will be no end to such adjustments as directed by the Lord to His servants." (bold added for emphasis)

'No end' goes both ways. Forward and backward. The following is a non-exhaustive list of changes that have occurred to the temple ordinances during this dispensation alone:

  1. Joseph Smith received instruction to stop allowing any gender to be baptized for any specific individual in 1842.
  2. The sealing of Children was not performed for the first time until after Joseph Smith's death.
  3. I have written about one change here: A Revelation that impacts the ordinary Temple Attendee that they probably know nothing about
  4. During the tenure of President Heber J. Grant, there were a few things removed or scaled back.
    • Various Oaths were completely removed from the ceremony
    • Various descriptions about penalties were completely removed
  5. In 1936 an explanation of the temple veil was added.
  6. A slow unfolding in the 1960s made film the primary presentation tool during the endowment ceremony.
  7. In the 1970s Satan's language is scaled back to a varying degree. Complete lines are removed.
  8. The 1990s brought very significant changes that range from the following:
    • All penalties are removed.
    • Even more language used by Satan is removed.
    • Language surrounding women and their covenant responsibilities is altered and removed.
    • The time of the Endowment is shortened by streamlining oft-repeated phrases.
(If any corrections are needed, please provide me the source.)

This all paints a self-evident picture. The ordinances of the temple are very malleable and, therefore, their presentation should not be considered as doctrine. Truths taught therein can be considered doctrine, but we should be grateful for Heavenly Parents that allow these things to be altered based on the circumstances and need of their children.


President Nelson is living up to his promise is he not?


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