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Monday, November 25, 2013

A History of the Temple Recommend Interview Questions

The book "The Development of LDS Temple Worship: A Documentary History" is indispensable. I highly recommend owning it if historic modifications to temple worship interest you. Most of this information was found with the help of that book, but it's not the only resource.

1856, Mar 2: "The persons who can get their endowments must be those who pray, who pay their tithing from year to year; who live the lives of saints from day to day; setting good examples before their neighbors. Men and women, boys and girls over 16 years of age who are living the lives of saints, believe in the plurality [of wives], do not speak evil of the authorities of the Church, and possess true integrity towards their friends, can come up after their spring crops are sown, and their case shall be attended to." (First presidency letter to Stake Presidents and Bishops in Iron and Washington Counties, Mar 2 1856, in Parowan Historical Record, Mar. 16 1856, 13.)

1856, May 19: "These men and women whom you recommend, must be individuals, who pay their tithing from year to year; who pray in their families, and do not speak against the authorities of the Church and Kingdom of God; nor steal; nor lie; nor interfere with their neighbors things; nor their neighbors wives or husbands; who attend strictly to meetings and prayer meetings, and those who pay due respect to their presiding officers, and Bishops and those who do not swear." (1st Pres Letter from HCK to David Evans May 19, 1856)

1877, Nov 15: "Those desiring to receive the benefit of these ordinances must obtain a recommend from the Bishop of the Ward or settlement in which they reside, or in the absence of the Bishop, the recommend may be signed by the President of the Stake....No person will be eligible to receive these blessings except they have been rebaptized." (John Taylor to Angus M. Cannon, Nov 15, 1877)

1886, Nov 30: "The Word of Wisdom as originally given was sent not by commandment or constraint; but 'by revelation on the the [sic] Word of Wisdom, for the temporal salvation of all Saints in these days,' and no rule has been formulated, nor law proclaimed, nor counsel given since that time which makes its strict observance, necessary to receive ordinances of life and salvation in the temples. There are many cases where people may violate the strict letter of the Word of Wisdom, and yet be following its spirit in doing so.....and yet...we are opposed to the common use of these articles by Latter-day Saints. A man or a woman who disregards the Word of Wisdom and still profess to be a Latter-day Saint ought to be ashamed of their conduct. A judicious bishop will not give a recommend to such a person without first taking up a labor with him or her against the indulgence in the habits mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. No person who flagrantly violates that word should ask for a recommend." (John Taylor to John D.T. McAllister and David H. Cannon, Nov 30, 1886)

1909: Abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea is decided to be a criteria for entrance. Oddly, the 12 had, until 1906, used wine in the sacrament in the temple quarterly. The order was not strict: it was explicitly not a "rigid rule." For example. elderly people were exempt. (See "LDS Temple Worship" by Anderson)

1905: President Joseph F. Smith instructs that sealings for the dead cannot be performed except for those who were married in life. Also, ordinances for the dead are not to be performed for those who committed murder, suicide, or were excommunicates except by permission of the temple president. (See "LDS Temple Worship" by Anderson)

1934: "It is important that all those who may desire to enter the temple for endowments or other ordinances, should observe the law of tithing. The applicant should also observe all other principles of the Gospel, should keep the Word of Wisdom, not use profanity, should not join nor be a member of any secret oath-bound organization and should sustain without reservation the general and local authorities of the church." (Handbook of Instructions 1934)

1944: "[Recommends] are not to be issued to persons who do not sustain the General Authorities of the Church; who are not honest tithepayers or who do not undertake to become honest tithepayers, as distinguished from part tithepayers or token payers; who do not observe the Word of Wisdom or express a willingness to undertake to observe the Word of Wisdom; and who are not otherwise fully worthy by believing in and living the gospel..." (Handbook of Instructions, 1944)

1954: "Considered a letter...about issuing temple recommends to non-tithe payers. I explained that people who go to the temple should be full tithe payers and should observe the Word of Wisdom; that as a matter of fact, it is a question of their faith. Men who have a testimony of the Gospel and believe it should contribute to it and if they fail to keep their promise to observe these commandments the Bishop has a right to withhold the recommend, not wholly on the failure to pay tithing but because of their lack of faith in the Gospel. Their failure to pay tithing would indicate their lack of faith in the Gospel." (David O. McKay diary, July 9, 1954)

1960: "No person should receive a recommend for any purpose unless he is believed to be worthy in every respect. Unworthiness disqualifies him. Before issuing recommends bishops will assure themselves by searching inquiry that the recipients are free from all kinds of immoral practices; that they have no affiliation, in sympathy or otherwise, with any of the apostate groups that are running counter to the established order of the Church; that they sustain local and General Authorities of the Church; are full tithepayers, or will covenant to become such; that they observe the Word of Wisdom, abstaining from tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor; and that they are fully worthy as evidenced by their observance of the whole gospel law including abiding by all conditions of their temple obligations." (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 18 1960)

1963: "No person should receive a recommend for any purpose unless he is believed to be worthy in every respect. Unworthiness disqualifies him. Before issuing recommends bishops will assure themselves by searching inquiry that the recipients are free from all kinds of immoral or unchristianlike practices; that they have no affiliation, in sympathy or otherwise, with any of the apostate groups that are running counter to the established order of the Church; that they sustain local and General Authorities of the Church; are full tithepayers, or will covenant to become such; that they observe the Word of Wisdom, abstaining from tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor; and that they earnestly strive to do their duty in the Church, to attend their sacrament, Priesthood, and other meetings, and to obey the rules, laws and commandments of the Gospel, including abiding by all conditions of their temple obligations." (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 19 1963)

1963: "...until they have satisfied their bishops that they have thoroughly repented, and have shown their repentance by living righteously for a prolonged period of time. Mere sorrow is not repentance." (General Handbook of Instructions, Number 19 1963)

1964: "Consideration was given to the suggestion that a Temple card be prepared for the General Authorities and their wives to be signed by the First Presidency, indicating that they are entitled to the privileges of all Temples. This card could be presented at the Temple gate indicating that the General Authorities and their wives have an authoritative Temple card of admittance, thus eliminating the necesssity of presenting a Temple Recommend. It was suggested that provision be made for the signature of the holder to appear on the back of the card for identification, and the card would not need to be renewed. I indicated my approval of this proposition." (David O McKay diary, Feb 14, 1964)

1966: 1st Presidency Letter allows proxy work to be performed for all except those of known "Negro" blood without consideration of worthiness or any qualification. (See "LDS Temple Worship" by Anderson)

1966, Aug 30: 1st Presidency announces to stake presidents and missions that those who work at casinos are not to have administrative callings or temple recommends.

1971, Feb 12: "A searching interview should be conducted by the bishop and also by the stake president to determine whether or not---1. The applicant has a testimony of the Gospel. 2. He supports local and General Authorities. 3. Accepts and follows the teachings and programs of the Church. 4. Keep[s] the Word of Wisdom, uses drugs. 5. He is morally clean---free from adultery, fornication, homosexuality. 6. He is in good standing in the Church. 7. He is free from legal entanglements." (1st Presidency letter)

1976: "Before issuing a recommend the bishop will assure himself by searching inquiry of the worthiness of the applicant in relation to the standards and principles of the Church. These may include the following questions: 1. Are you morally clean and worthy to enter the temple? 2. Will you and do you sustain the local and General Authorities of the Church, and will you live in accordance with the accepted rules and doctrines of the Church? 3. Do you have any connection, in sympathy or otherwise, with any of the apostate groups or individuals who are running counter to the accepted rules and doctrines of the Church? 4. Are you a full tithe payer? 5. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen? 6. Do you keep the Word of Wisdom? 7. Do you wear the regulation garments? 8. Will you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel? 9. Have you ever been denied a recommend to any temple? ...10. Have you ever been divorced? ... 11. Has there ever been a major transgression in your life that has not been confessed and adjusted?" (General Handbook of Instructions 1976)

1982, Jan 5: "Married persons should understand that if in their marital relations they are guilty of unnatural, impure, or unholy practices, they should not enter the temple unless and until they repent and discontinue any such practices....The First Presidency has interpreted oral sex as constituting an unnatural, impure, or unholy practice." (First Presidency letter)

1982, Oct 15: "Under date of January 5, 1982, we addressed a letter to you which outlined procedures to be followed in conducting worthiness interviews. Since then, we have received a number of letters from members of the Church which indicate clearly that some local leaders have been delving into private, sensitive matters beyond the scope of what is appropriate. In conducting worthiness interviews, you...should never inquire into personal, intimate matters involving marital relations between a man and his wife. You should never deviate from or go beyond the specific questions contained in the temple recommend book..." (First presidency letter)