Mormon Garments: What to Expect When Receiving Your Temple Endowment (Part 2)

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

Before continuing, I want to point out something that might be obvious, but maybe not to everybody. When you are baptized, all the focus is on you—you’re the only person in the room being baptized. Receiving your endowment is different. The people who go into the endowment room with you have also already been washed, anointed, and clothed in the Mormon temple garments and are either receiving their own endowment or are receiving an endowment for somebody who is deceased (like being baptized for the dead). So you don’t need to worry about being the center of attention during the endowment ceremony because all of the things that I’m about to describe you doing, everybody else with you will be doing them as well.

Now, as we talk about the endowment room, every temple is a little different. In some temples, you stay in the same room throughout the entire endowment ceremony, in other temples, you move to different rooms at different stages of the endowment. This is a minor difference that isn’t vital to the ordinance itself; in this video, I assume you’re in one room throughout the endowment. As you enter the endowment room, men and women typically will sit on opposite sides of the room. You’ll sit next to your escort. Towards the front of the endowment room is an altar. Remember that for millennia, altars have pointed to the death of Jesus Christ. For example, Abraham “built an altar . . . and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar”, which was “a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.” Moses similarly alluded to the altar as a symbol of Christ’s death when he instructed Aaron to “go unto the altar, and offer thy sin offering . . . and make an atonement for thyself, and for the people.” Although we do not perform animal sacrifice in the temple, we can remember that one symbol of the altar is Jesus Christ and his Atonement. The altar at the temple is a subtle reminder of how central Jesus Christ is to the temple endowment.

The endowment ceremony takes about an hour and a half. Most of it is presented through a pre-recorded audiovisual presentation, which sometimes consists solely of narration and other times includes video. Note that some of the main characters in both the video and the narration are Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. During this video, “the plan of salvation is presented, including the Creation of the world, the Fall of Adam and Eve, the Atonement of Jesus Christ…and instruction on the way all people can return to the presence of the Lord.”

I like to think of the video as having basically three main parts. The first part is the creation of the world, when God, and those who are assisting Him, creates the heaven and earth, the plants, the animals, and eventually Adam and Eve, who are placed in the garden of Eden. The second part of the video is what happens to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden.

You know the story—Satan tempts Adam and Eve; they partake of the forbidden fruit and try to cover their nakedness by making fig-leaf aprons, which we can see as a symbol of their efforts to hide their sins from God. In place of these aprons, the Lord made coats of skins for Adam and Eve. These coats of skins, represented by the temple garment, can be seen, in the words of author John Charles, “as a symbol of the true ‘covering over’ of guilt which Christ’s atonement provides when we repent; the animal which God presumably killed in order to make the coats of skin could be read as a symbol of Christ.” Thus, the garment itself is a constant reminder of Jesus Christ—this symbolic “coat of skin” not only covers our physical nakedness but also reminds us that through Jesus Christ, our sins will be completely covered and atoned for as we repent and are faithful to our covenants.

Really recognizing the garment as a representation of Christ’s Atonement can change the way we view the temple garment. One friend shared with me the joy he has as he puts on the temple garment and feeling that Christ has him covered again. The second part of the video ends with Adam and Eve having to leave the Garden of Eden. The third part of the video describes Adam and Eve striving to return to the presence of God. Throughout the endowment, you will notice how Jesus Christ plays a central role in Adam and Eve’s redemption, just as He does for us.

One way we can symbolically view the endowment is that it’s like you and I are Adam and Eve. Think about the three parts of the video: you and I have been created, you and I have inherited the results of the Fall, you and I are striving to return to the presence of God. Metaphorically speaking, we are on the journey with Adam and Eve. Central to the instruction we receive throughout the endowment is that God is preparing us not just to return to His presence but to return as heirs of His glory—in scriptural and prophetic language as kings and priests, queens and priestesses to God.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare for the temple is to read Moses chapter two verse one all the way through Moses chapter five verse eleven. The video for the temple endowment is largely based on these chapters, and I think if you’ve read them a couple of times, you will have a good sense for what’s happening and feel more comfortable as you receive the endowment ordinance.

Throughout the endowment, there will be some pauses in the narration and video where different things will happen. For example, at one point, everyone will put on ceremonial temple clothing. We talked earlier about how you had a packet of clothes that you didn’t put on in the changing room. During the endowment, you’ll put on this sacred, symbolic temple clothing over the white clothing you are already wearing. This temple clothing can, among other things, represent your future promises to become part of a royal lineage of priests and priestesses to God. You may have seen these sacred robes of the holy priesthood if you’ve seen dead Mormon burial garment pictures or an endowed family member at their viewing prior to being buried. You can watch an excellent Church video called “Sacred Temple Clothing” to see these robes and understand more about them.

Dressing in ceremonial clothing is something that we don’t do in sacrament meeting, so it might feel different—but remember that the temple is full of symbols. I’m not saying this is the only potential symbol for the ceremonial temple clothing we wear, but consider it as one possibility. Imagine you were going into the presence of a queen or a king. You would want to be clean and prepared. You would put on special clothing. This symbolism suggests that the endowment is preparing us to enter into the presence of God. So it’s not surprising that we’re putting on special clothing, especially clothing that, in ancient times, was connected with the temple and with holiness. Putting on these ceremonial clothes is a symbolic way of preparing to enter the presence of God.

Another key part of our preparing to enter God’s presence is that during the temple endowment, we covenant to live five specific laws. These laws help us to pattern our life after Jesus Christ. To the degree that we learn to live these celestial laws, we will become endowed with heavenly power. Because the endowment is being presented in a narration, there’s no opportunity for you to put things on pause or to ask questions, so it’s important to know in advance what these covenants are. Let’s talk about them individually—each is explained in the Church’s Handbook.

First, we covenant to “live the law of obedience and strive to keep Heavenly Father’s commandments.” Second, we covenant to “obey the law of sacrifice, which means sacrificing to support the Lord’s work and repenting with a broken heart and contrite spirit.” The law of sacrifice reminds us of Jesus Christ, who gave the ultimate sacrifice. As it states in Hebrews 10:12, Jesus “offered one sacrifice for sins forever [and] sat down on the right hand of God.” Third, we covenant to “obey the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the higher law that He taught while He was on the earth.” Fourth, we covenant to “keep the law of chastity, which means having no sexual activity except with those to whom we are legally and lawfully wedded according to God’s law.” Fifth, we covenant to “keep the law of consecration, which means dedicating our time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed us to building up Jesus Christ’s Church on the earth.”
So those are the five major laws and covenants in the endowment ceremony. If you want additional information about these covenants or to study them further, go to the Church’s temple website, or ask an endowed family member or a local church leader. Thus far, as part of receiving your endowment, we’ve talked about the video presentation of the Plan of Salvation, putting on ceremonial clothing, like the Mormon temple garments, and making covenants. In addition, as stated earlier, Brigham Young taught that you will “receive key words, signs and tokens, pertaining to the holy Priesthood.” By the time you get to the law of consecration, you’ll know that the temple endowment is coming to an end.

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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