Mormon Garments: What to Expect When Receiving Your Temple Endowment (Part 1)

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

In Doctrine and Covenants 95:8, the Lord says that one of His purposes for temples is “to endow those whom I have chosen with power from on high.” Receiving your endowment is a wonderful opportunity to come closer to Jesus Christ and receive power from Him and our Heavenly Father. As I’ve talked with many young adults who are preparing to receive their endowment, I’ve found that some of them are nervous because they don’t know what to expect during the endowment, causing them to feel uncomfortable. Others have heard misinformation about aspects of the endowment and Mormon temple garments. This video is specifically designed for those who are preparing to receive their temple endowment. I’d like to walk you through what will happen from the moment you enter the temple to receive your own endowment to the time that you leave. In doing so, I’m trying to be careful to only share what is appropriate to share and at the same time help you know what to expect.

The word endowment means “a gift.” In simple terms, you can think of the temple endowment as a gift from God where He gives you blessings and power. Ultimately, the gift Heavenly Father offers you is Eternal Life with Him in the Celestial Kingdom. In the temple, you learn more about God’s plan and make covenants that make it possible to return to God’s presence. Incidentally, you might hear people sometimes say something like, “I’m going to take out my endowments.” I’m not sure where that phrase came from, but you don’t “take out” a gift—you receive it. So that’s why throughout this video, I’ll refer to receiving your endowment.

Now, before you go to the temple to receive your own endowment, you’ll want to do a few things. First, your recommend for a living ordinance and temple recommend need to be signed by your bishop and your stake president. Second, make sure you schedule an appointment with the temple—although you normally don’t need appointments when you attend the temple, you do need an appointment when you receive your own endowment. Third, once you have your recommend, make sure you’ve purchased the temple garment and either purchased temple clothing or made arrangements with the temple to rent such clothing. Finally, someone who has already been endowed will be going through the temple with you as your helper, known as an “escort.” Usually, this is a close family member or friend—you should choose who the person will be and invite them to attend the temple with you.

Okay, let’s dive in. When you arrive at the temple, you’ll first show your temple recommend at a reception desk. The men then go to the men’s changing area, and women go to the women’s changing area. You’ll have a private changing stall and a locker to store your clothing (similar to a temple baptistry). While you’re in the stall, you’ll change out of your street clothes, and you’ll put on the temple garment for the first time. Then you will dress in white clothes—if you’re a woman, you’ll wear something like a slip, a white temple dress, white slippers, and stockings. If you’re a man, you’ll wear white pants, a white shirt, a white tie, and white socks and slippers—so you’re all in white.

Among other things, being dressed in white reminds us that through Jesus Christ, even though our sins are “as scarlet, they [can become] as white as snow.” The fact that all are dressed in white is also a beautiful symbol of unity and harmony—reminding us that we are all equal before God. In addition to dressing in white, both men and women will have a packet of ceremonial temple clothing. You won’t put this clothing on yet, but you’ll use it later as part of the endowment ordinance.

Once you’ve changed, your escort will likely be waiting for you. He or she—it will be a person of your same sex—will also be dressed in white and will wait while you receive the initiatory ordinances. You might have heard people talk about “doing initiatories” at the temple. When people say this, they are referring to the initiatory ordinances, which are the first part of the endowment ceremonies. Initiatory means a beginning and is not only the first and preparatory ordinance but also signifies your initiation to one day become a priest or priestess to God. You will be symbolically washed, anointed, and authorized to wear the Mormon temple garments. The initiatory ordinances take about five to ten minutes.

In the Old Testament, we read of something like these ordinances being done anciently in preparation for service in the priesthood. Exodus 40:12-13 says, “Thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water. And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him.” The initiatory ordinances happen just adjacent to the changing area, so the initiatory ordinance workers will be the same sex as you are. You may have heard church leaders talk about women exercising priesthood power in the temple; the initiatory ordinance is a great example of that. Your forehead will be symbolically washed, and a temple worker will give you a blessing. This blessing is similar to the sacrament prayers in that it is written down and uses the same words every time. That’s really nice because the blessing is beautiful, and you’ll think to yourself, “I want to remember every word of this,” but, of course, you won’t be able to remember everything, and that’s okay. Just like you can do baptisms for the dead many times, you can also return to the temple and do initiatory work for the dead. That’s what people mean when they say, “I’m going to the temple to do initiatories.” They mean they’re doing initiatory work for those that have passed on. As you return to the temple to perform initiatory ordinances for the dead, you will be able to again listen to the beautiful blessings that are promised.

After the washing, you will be anointed. A temple worker will put a few drops of oil on your head and give you a blessing. Again, it’s a set blessing, similar to the washing blessing. Finally, you will be authorized to wear the temple garment. You’ll have already put it on in your private changing area, and this ordinance authorizes you to wear it. The garment is sometimes formally referred to as “the garment of the holy priesthood.” While we don’t need to always use that full title, I think it’s helpful to know that that’s the name of the temple garment. Sometimes you hear people refer to the garment using slang words. If we talk about the garment in a casual way, it might lead us to treat or think about it in a casual way when the garment is actually sacred.

As the Church Handbook explains, “The temple garment is a reminder of covenants made in the temple and when worn properly throughout life, will serve as a protection against temptation and evil. The garment should be worn beneath the outer clothing. It should not be removed for activities that can reasonably be done while wearing the garment, and it should not be modified to accommodate different styles of clothing.” As we wear the garment of the holy priesthood, we’re symbolically clothed in priesthood power.

In addition to authorizing you to wear the Mormon temple garments and explaining the promises associated with it, the temple worker will give you a new name, which you will want to remember. The scriptures occasionally refer to a “new name” but do not give a lot of specifics as to what it is. Maybe I can first explain what your new name isn’t. It’s not your name from the premortal life, and it’s not a strange sounding name in another language. It’s a symbolic name. Remember that everything in the temple has a symbolic meaning. We can think of many people who made serious commitments to God and received a new name. For example, Jacob had a powerful spiritual experience, and God changed his name to Israel. Or the Lamanites who had a deep conversion, and then took upon themselves the name “Anti-Nephi-Lehies.” So perhaps—and I’m not saying that this is the symbolism—but maybe a symbolism of receiving a new name at the temple is marking a momentous spiritual occasion in your life as you make covenants with God as part of the temple endowment.

Joseph Smith taught that “the new name” is a “key word”. Put this idea next to President Brigham Young’s definition of the temple endowment. He said, “Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood.” Thus, the new name is one of the key words and symbols that you will use as you receive your temple endowment. You’ll want to remember your new name throughout your life, but if by chance you forget it—either on the day you receive your endowment or in the future—a temple worker can remind you what it is.

Everything we’ve talked about so far—the washing, anointing, then the clothing and receiving the new name—is collectively referred to as the initiatory ordinances. After you finish, you’ll rejoin your escort. One of the temple leaders may come and chat with the two of you (or they may talk with you just before the initiatory ordinances). This temple leader might share some instructions or see if you have any questions. Next, you’ll go to the endowment room.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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