It’s been six years since I last had that interview. Ever since my difficult experience with the temple, I haven’t been able to bring myself to get a temple rec, even though I, in good peace of mind, could probably answer all the questions well enough to get one.
There would be some tricky questions, of course. Particularly that one about living up to my temple covenants. How does a woman who absolutely rejects the idea of hearkening unto a husband get past that one? I think I would honestly respond that I’m not perfect but that I’m trying to be a good person. And that I don’t understand or support the idea of a woman hearkening unto her husband. I’m relatively sure that most bishops/counselors would just nod sympathetically and move on to the next question. Another question that might give me pause is the sustaining my leaders question. But I know that I can answer yes to that one. After all, someone’s got to do it, and sustaining them doesn’t mean I always have to agree with them.
So given that I doubt I would be rejected, I often ask myself why I just can’t make myself go into that office. I’ve come up with a few reasons why: 1. There’s something terribly intimate about discussing your deepest personal beliefs (and underwear wearing habits) with a man who you barely know. That makes me uncomfortable.
2. Confiding in someone, truly opening oneself up to someone else, gives the listener power. I haven’t exactly figured out what I mean by that, but I sense that this is true. And I don’t know if I like the idea of giving a stranger man that kind of intimate power over me. My confidence, my concerns, my fears, my faith are gifts I want to discriminately bestow.3. The male over female power structure. The fact this it’s always a man who decides whether or not I’m worthy to enter the Lord’s house. This really bothers me. While I’d still have concerns about discussing my intimate issues with a stranger woman, I sure would love to have that option. (Temple rec interviews with RS President? Would anyone like that as an option?)
4. The isolated and possibly intimidating environment of the interview. There’s something starkly authoritarian about someone sitting behind that big brown desk in a power suit. Possible solution: make it known that people can bring a trusted friend into the interview with them. I think this would help some women who have been abused by men to feel more comfortable.
5.The focus on practice AND beliefs. I haven’t thought this one out too clearly, but I think I might be more comfortable with a focus on practice. After all, beliefs are so fluid. And if a person is acting like a good person, trying to practice Christianity, treating others well…. That just seems like it might be a better way to judge someone than on whether or not they know for sure that all the church leaders have been called by God. (But I’m sure there are tons of people out there who can come up with great reasons why an emphasis on beliefs and practice are important.)
I realize that there are also reasons to like the interview. I have a friend who sees it as a valuable way to mentally assess herself and see where she is with her faith. I’m sure others like the chance to talk one on one with their local leaders.
I would love to know about your feelings and experiences with temple recommend interviews. Please feel free to share both positive and difficult experiences with this.