Evil in the Temple

The last few times I’ve been to the temple, I’ve noticed how the endowment addresses the nature of evil: frankly, honestly, directly, in an unflinchingly sober manner that leaves no doubt that we must face this enemy head on. 

I remember seeing something anti-Mormon once that criticized the temple endowment for its references to evil, but in the overall context, I’m grateful for it.  One way to interpret the message of this aspect of the temple might be this: “Yes, there is a lot of suffering and misery in life.  A path of righteous discipleship will not shield you from that–in fact, it will make you more aware of it and will put you more directly in conflict with it.” 

It’s ironic that active Mormons are often stereotyped and mocked for living inside some kind of super-sterile, Pollyana-ish bubble, for I can think of nothing in the world so brutally clear about the pervasive presence of evil in the world–and our imminent danger from it–as the endowment.  Unlike the schlocky nihilism of Hollywood, though, the temple does not revel in bleakness on this point.  Just as the temple repeatedly stresses that we must each constantly strive to resist the darkness pressing in on us from all directions, it likewise very clearly teaches us the way to be delivered from that darkness.  Such a lesson may be the primary mission of the temple. 

Not only does the temple address evil “in an unflinchingly sober manner that leaves no doubt that we must face this enemy head on,” it reassures us that we are not alone in this contest.  In fact, we are not to engage evil on our own terms at all.  In order to victoriously resist life’s varieties of vicissitude, we are to sublimate our will to Christ’s and follow Him in all things, letting His power over evil save us.  That, too, is a major lesson of the temple:

“Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the servants of Satan that do uphold his work.”  Doctrine and Covenants 10:5

One comment on “Evil in the Temple

  1. “Yes, there is a lot of suffering and misery in life. A path of righteous discipleship will not shield you from that–in fact, it will make you more aware of it and will put you more directly in conflict with it.”

    If we don’t face evil head-on, we’re not on the right path. Period. Because the Adversary will always try to stop us on the right way. Some stuff, e.g. R-rated movies, are just a lure. It’s when we refuse to take the lure and “have an eye single to God,” when he becomes a living reality in our lives. “There must needs be opposition,”–and there truly is.

    That’s why it sometimes bothers me when I hear so much about people, whose financial troubles were miraculously solved, because they paid tithing. Do we pay tithing to get money back? When people call WoW a “health code,” I always want to ask, “so if I’m seriously disabled because of illness despite living the WoW, what does that prove?”

    In the end we need to have the kind of faith of the three Hebrews in Daniel 3, where they refuse to bow down to Nebuchadnessar’s golden image. But if not…

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