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Single and Endowed

By Zenaida

San Diego Temple

I was endowed at the age of 24. I did not serve a mission, and I am still single. I’ve recently begun to wonder if I could do it again, would I? Would I choose to wait instead? My father was against it, and I expected my bishop to be also, but he was very supportive. Some of the reasons that I personally was given for not receiving the endowment were that it was far worse if the law of chastity was broken after going to the temple, there’s no reason to go if you’re not getting married or there’s no hope of getting married, and because the temple is so geared toward married people, it would be difficult for me as a single person, and I wasn’t going to serve a mission.

A friend once asked me why I chose to receive my endowment, and I responded with, “It was the right time,” but it was so much more complicated than that. I gave her the easy answer, when I didn’t fully understand it myself. I felt stunted in my spiritual growth, and I wanted to take that right of passage. Now that I am endowed, I do not regret the knowledge I gained, but I can’t help but occasionally mourn the path I began to walk. I felt like I was ready and needed to know in order to continue my spiritual growth. I never expected to find elements that would be upsetting. So, there are times when I think it would have been better for me wait, and times when I am glad I do not have to make the choice to marry in the temple blindly.

I ran on to this ZD post from last year

Everything from the opinion that it’s not necessary until sealing, to setting an age limit, to the verbiage from the handbook was given: ”

Most single members will be interviewed for a recommend for their own endowment when they are called as missionaries or when they are to be married in a temple. Worthy single members who have not received their endowment in connection with a mission or marriage may become eligible for a recommend interview when the bishop and the stake president determine that they are sufficiently mature to understand and keep the sacred covenants made in a temple. Such eligibility should be determined individually for each person rather than using routine criteria such as reaching a certain age or leaving home for college or employment.

This particular comment resonated with me:

I felt that the only thing I could control in regards to my own personal progression was to go to the temple. It was the next step in the gospel and I didn’t want to what for some other need (marriage or mission) to make me go.

I could have written that myself.

Another interesting side note is the complication of marrying someone outside of the church and having the husband’s permission be required before entering. Would a wife’s permission also be required?

Perhaps it’s all been said already, but singles, I would love to hear how you made your decision to enter the temple, and any thoughts on the encouragement/discouragement of single sisters to receive their endowment.

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  1. Jessawhy says:

    My only thought when I read your wonderful post was that questioning a woman’s maturity seems silly when they are putting 19 year old boys through every day.
    Isn’t it generally thought that women are more mature than men at least until they begin adulthood?

  2. Caroline says:

    Well, I can tell you my experience with this. I was 22 and engaged and decided to go through the temple 2 or 3 months before the wedding. I wanted that experience to be about me rather than about my marriage. I also didn’t want Mike to be the one to pull me through the veil, since I felt like that ritual act was symbolizing something non-egalitarian in our marriage.

    Anyway, I can only speak from my perspective, but my advice to singles would be to live it up while you can. Don’t put on garments before you have to/want to. The temple didn’t bring me much insight or comfort, so that’s also factoring into my reasoning here to wait. I would, however, recommend to women to get their endowments a month or so before their wedding. I’ve heard that doing it all in the same day can be exhausting and overwhelming.

  3. Kiri Close says:

    My husband Rob isn’t a member, and I never really felt that I needed to get his permission to continue in the temple (or in any other aspect of my life). I don’t remember being directed to ask for my husband’s permission to continue temple work. I should think deeper and try to remember if I ever have been.

    However, here in smallminded…um, er…I meant small’town’ Gordon, Nebraska, our branch president has often asked Rob (right in front of me!) if it was okay that I take on a calling (generally, in my marriage, Rob has no say or choice in activities I wish to be a part of unless I invite him to be. Period. Prez obviously has no clue about me&rob).

    Strange how that goes.

  4. Bree says:

    I made the decision to go through at age 26. I had taken the requisite temple prep course 3 or 4 times at that point, had prayed about it, I’d read all the books and, too, felt it was something I needed to progress. I was living in London at the time and my singles ward bishop was an immigrant from a country where (hmmm…how to say…)gender equality does not exist. When I went in and expressed my desire, he immediately shut me down and told me that unless I was getting married soon it would be inappropriate for me to go through the temple. I knew he was wrong, but also knew that telling him so would not end well. I just stood up and walked out without a word. I can’t express the rage I felt, to have a man who didn’t know me at all and wasn’t interested in hearing about how I’d come to make the decision, deny me of what I then thought would be a great blessing in my life.

    I scheduled an appointment to meet with my Stake President, but in the weeks that followed ended up having to return to the states for medical reasons. I still wish that I had confronted that bishop. I was endowed in the states a few months later.

    Strangely enough, my temple crises did not begin until after I was married. When I was single, I could just shelve a lot of the things that bothered me because I felt they didn’t apply to me at the time. I just willfully ignored them, really. Not so anymore. The issues I used to ignore, now cause a lot of heartache and anger.

  5. ESO says:

    Bree–I also liked the endowment ceremony much more when I was single. It was not as problematic. I have a friend who had a convex experience from me: she was first endowed the week of her marriage and after a divorce did not go for a few decades. When she finally returned last year, as a single sister, she found it to be a much better experience.

    Kiri–it is quite common in the Church to have someone extending a calling run it by a husband first. I understand that it can be unsettling and many may feel it unnecessary, patronizing, etc., but it is common and generally done with the best of intentions. For example, your BP may feel he is extending respect to your husband by doing this, or he may genuinely want to know whether this is a good time/place in your life to take on a specific responsibility (some people never say no). If it bothers you, it seems you could have that discussion with your BP and put an end to it.

  6. gladtobeamom says:

    My husband wasnt active and we were not married in the temple. It is something I always wanted so when my little sister got married I prepared to go through on my own. We took out our endowments out on the same day. All my sisters were there. It was a great experience. It was weird to do it on my own. My husband supported me but we didnt talk about it much. I wouldnt have done it then if it would have caused a problem but my husband doesnt control me in that manner I do what I believe and dont force him. If it were any other way our marriage wouldnt work. I enjoyed going by myself. I did have painful moments when I focused on what I didn’t have because I wasnt sealed etc. but I worked hard to go to serve and for peace it was then that is was good for me. My husband came back for a time and we were sealed. Going with him was so different. There where good times and sometimes I enjoyed going by myself and riding home in silence rather then listen to rock music or whatever he would play. It is a very family oriented thing but I found for me at least it was great for me as an individual regardless of my circumstance.

  7. Ziff says:

    “questioning a woman’s maturity seems silly when they are putting 19 year old boys through every day.”

    Amen, Jessawhy! This is why I find experiences like Bree’s so bizarre, although I know they’re pretty common. I remember my wife’s bishop was really reluctant to allow her to go through the temple a few months before we got married rather than, say, a week before.

  8. Melanie2 says:

    questioning a woman’s maturity seems silly when they are putting 19 year old boys through every day.

    I think the difference for pre-missionaries (men and women) is that they will shortly be entering a very supportive spiritual environment. In my mission experience, at least, the peer pressure was pointed toward obedience, in-depth scripture study, and the like–nothing that would have threatened my ability to keep my covenants. (Not that those things are easy, but there is a big difference between that kind of environment and the day-to-day culture experienced by most young adults.)

    At the other extreme, missions are also very challenging on a variety of spiritual and emotional levels, making the additional insight and blessings provided by temple ordinances that much more important for the missionaries involved.

    The same seems true of marriage–with partners ideally supporting each other in their efforts to understand and keep covenants while facing the very real spiritual and emotional challenges inherent in intimate relationships.

    All of which is a very long way for me to say that I think there is a bit of risk-benefit analysis going on here. For 19-21 year-olds entering missions or marriage, the benefits of temple blessings obviously outweigh the risks of immaturity or frivolous covenant-making. (I suspect the mission application process and interviews would help weed out anyone who was truly too immature to handle serious covenants.) But where a person is not immediately approaching marriage or a mission, the balancing of risk and benefit is not always as clear, hence the instruction for bishops and stake presidents to make individual determinations.

  9. Melanie2 says:

    Oops, I forgot my quotation marks on the first sentence.

  10. Zenaida says:

    Thanks for sharing your stories!
    It’s a little strange to me, because I expected opposition, but never encountered any from anyone in authority.
    I wonder about trusting 19-year-old boys with the endowment, but asking girls to wait until a week before they are married. I think that is connected to the whole issue of men having the priesthood while women don’t in general anyway.

  11. Jessawhy says:

    As far as callings, the stk pres asked me first if he could call my husband to be EQP. So, it does go the other way, sometimes.

  12. elizabeth-w says:

    I’m almost 40, I’ve been married almost 12 years, and I’m taking out my endowments next month.
    My sister is 33 and single, and did hers when she was 24 and hasn’t regretted it, ever.
    My husband does have a to write a ‘permission’ letter, but they’ve also always asked him if it’s okay if I work in nursery, YW, etc. I think it’s the same deal.
    As a single person no one ever suggested I take out my endowments (but that had a lot more to do with where I was at than anything else probably). But since I’ve been married, every bishop has asked me why I haven’t taken them out yet.
    I love your quote. That is 100% where I’m at, why I’m doing now. I’m never going to be more ready.

  13. amyb says:

    This thread has brought back some painful memories. I was endowed a week before I was married. I had wanted to do it a couple months before. I was very excited about it, my mother was encouraging me, and my bishop seemed on board as well. I had an appointment for my interview. Then, before the interview happened, the stake president marched up to me right after sac meeting and basically berated me for wanting to do it early and told me in no uncertain terms that it was not done that way. In complete shock, I managed to begin saying “But the bishop said . . .” The sharp retort: “He should know better.” And he turned and left.

    I was absolutely devastated, mostly by the way it had been handled. I was treated as if I had said I was going to kill puppies or deal meth to the young women or something. I was treated as if there was something wrong with my desire to go to the temple.

    Part of going through the temple in Mormondom is also that it’s a rite of passage. One isn’t really a “grown up” in the church in a lot of ways without having been through. For singles, who are already marginalized, I can see why there’s a desire to be endowed, and at least partially join the club.

  14. G says:

    I’m with bree (and the others) who had a much harder time with the temple only after getting married. As a single, it was no prob disregarding all the harken to the husband stuff. I got to where I hated going after I was married.

  15. Kiri Close says:

    My most recent problem with the T-building is boredom. It’s boring in there to me!

    Though I do love sitting, semi-snoozing, thinking, & relaxing in the Celestial room – I wish could skip the endowment session altogether, and just go directly to the C room.

    I also LOVE doing baptisms for the dead–well, only when the water is nice and warm (then I get to shower under a hot, massaging shower head afterward!).

    While I prefer initiatiories to the endowment, pry my FAVE thing to do in the temple is fold laundry. Everytime I’ve been assigned laundry duty, I’ve chatted with other volunteers and/or temple employees – so cool to meet other LDS and learn of their diversity.

  16. TCU says:

    A bishop asking the permission of the spouse is not a sexist tradition. Many priesthood callings require a wife’s permission and commitment as well. It’s a courteous policy intended to bring families together in service and to be sure that both the wife and the husband know what they’re about to commit to.
    Like another poster, I wasn’t fully issued a call to be in the EQP until my wife signed off on it.

  17. Janna says:

    Just a quick note re: Kiri’s comment. You actually can go straight to the Celestial Room. Just go in through the out doors. No one will kick you out – trust me. I’ve done it – many times. 🙂

  18. Keri Brooks says:

    Thanks for this post. When I was about 17 1/2, I started to feel the desire to go to the temple. I waited and approached my bishop when I turned 18, figuring that there was no way he would say ok while I was still a minor. Anyway, he said I was too young, so I shelved the idea for a while.

    When I was about 19, I began to feel the urgency once again to go. I pushed it off, but it kept coming back, so I went to see the bishop again. This time, he said yes, and I was endowed 3 weeks later. About a month after that, I was called as a temple worker, a calling that I served in until I left on my mission, and for a year after I got back.

    I’m glad I had the chance to go so early because it gave me time to work through some concerns about the ceremony. I’ve made my peace. I’ve come to an interpretation that removes the sexist meaning, even if the language still makes me bristle.

    I’m glad I got to handle all of this while still single, so that if I ever marry, it will be a day free from those kind of concerns.

  19. Kiskilili says:

    I was 26 when I was endowed, and although my road to the temple ultimately led me out of the Church, I don’t regret making the decision to be endowed, and I’m not convinced I should have waited any longer to become any more “mature.” In fact, I think just the opposite: in a way, I think it would be to the Church’s benefit for women to be *less* mature at the time they’re endowed. I suspect that a 19-year-old girl, barely free of the subordinations of childhood, is less likely to be disturbed by the subordination the temple requires of women than, say, a 35 year-old woman who has lived on her own and managed her own affairs for years.

    What I do regret is agreeing, under duress, to covenants I knew even in that split second I absolutely should not say “yes” to. I wish I’d walked out of the room.

    But allowing women to be endowed younger isn’t really the solution. The solution is to (a) tell people well in advance the covenants they’ll be required to make, or (b) teach the values that the temple teaches openly–let our young women know that the Church’s ideal vision of marriage entails their defering to their husbands in some way. There’s a real disconnect between what the Church teaches inside and outside the temple, and it’s duplicitous.

  20. Sarah says:

    Thank you for posting on this topic. I’ve had experiences with various bishops encouraging me to receive my endowments before marriage, and some discouraging it until I’m engaged.

    Either way, here’s a question I’ve been pondering: Is a mission or engagement truly an appropriate indicator for anyone to enter the temple? Just because you want to get married doesn’t mean that you’re ready to make those sacred covenants with God. I think in general, bishops and stake presidents should make sure to take ample time before suggesting anyone should go to the temple, this includes 19-year-old boys and 21-year-old girls. Age is not an indicator of someone’s spiritual preparation. Everyone who goes to the temple MUST be spiritually prepared regardless of age or circumstance.

  21. D'Arcy says:

    I had to go through because I decided to serve a mission. I felt, on that first time, so scared to do anything wrong or let anything slip outside of the temple that it was fearful. However, I look back and believe that they put missionaries through that just so that they will be more obedient and take those months in the mission field more seriously. I wish I wouldn’t have had to do it. I only got to go to the temple three times before I went to the mission field where I didn’t get to go for 18 months.

    Now, as a single 31 year old, I have finally decided that I shouldn’t have done it. It wasn’t a place for me, and I took off my garments and said I would go back once equality was established. Will I be condemned in heaven more severely for having these issues? I don’t really believe in a God like that anymore.

  22. Angie says:

    I went to the temple for my own endowments three years before I met my husband. I never served a mission.

    I went to the temple for the same reason that you stated – that it was the next step in my spiritual progression. For me, baptism means that I have a desire to follow Jesus Christ. The temple means that I truly want to devote my whole life to Him. The endowment made me eligible to be sealed to my husband, but the endowment itself was only between me and God.

    One slight negative comment, if you don’t mind: I think it’s so silly to say that a person shouldn’t go to the temple, because the penalty for sinning is so much worse after attending the temple. That sounds like the person is not trusted to be an adult who can make informed choices that may involve some risk. That’s weird logic – don’t progress, because you might make mistakes! Isn’t that one of the main purposes of being on earth?

  23. Kiri Close says:

    Jana, thanx 4 the tip! I’m so doing that next time.

  24. Zenaida says:

    amyb, I’m so sorry to dig up unpleasant memories. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Keri, one of the things I struggle most with is trying to make peace through interpretation. I can’t get myself to feel good about bending or sidestepping the clear submission a wife is to make to her husband in the temple ceremony. This issue is not limited to the temple ceremony for me, but it seems that I can only interpret so far before my house of cards falls. I do feel alienated when I find an interpretation that vexes me, but is accepted as correct or doctrinal. There is only so far I can bend.

    “I suspect that a 19-year-old girl, barely free of the subordinations of childhood, is less likely to be disturbed by the subordination the temple requires of women than, say, a 35 year-old woman who has lived on her own and managed her own affairs for years.”
    Kiskilli, I’ve thought this same thought about the temple, and other church matters. There are many times I wish I could replace the blinders and go back to my worldview before. I wouldn’t trade the experience I’ve gained being independent and on my own, and I hope that it makes me a better partner rather than just another dependent in a family. Is there a way to do that within a temple marriage?

    Angie, I’m inclined to agree with you. I think it’s much better to encourage progression and questioning than to turn people away and send them further away.

    D’Arcy, I admire your conviction and ability to take an action like that. I think there is enormous pressure in a decision like that. I would very much like to believe that God knows us and would be understanding. I can’t imagine being condemned for acting as best we can with the knowledge we have.

  25. anonymous says:

    I try not to think about this very much. I was endowed when I was 25, after years and years of bishops telling me no. I eventually was able to go because I moved to where a relative was my Stake President. One of my bishops told me that I was ready and worthy, but he was going to say no because I had to learn to be obedient (to him). It is interesting, because I had feminist issues about them refusing to give me a recommend and then I had feminist issues after I eventually was able to go through (and they probably run deeper).

  26. Petra says:

    Zenaida, thanks so much for this; I could have written large parts of your post, changing only ’24’ to ’23.’ My decision came from, I think, feeling generally unsettled and unhappy in life, having just started a very demanding graduate program, and reading in my patriarchal blessing some words on the temple that made me think that experience, whether simply preparing for it or actually undergoing it, would bring me some peace.

    It was a nice thought; instead, the process brought me grief at every stage, since I encountered opposition from my bishop, and since when I finally persuaded the relevant authorities and went through the temple, I found not peace and reassurance that God loved me but the opposite: turmoil and the sneaking suspicion that God really does value men more than women.

    Yet despite the fact that my temple experience has moved me into marginal and halfhearted church activity over the past six months, and despite the fact that I can’t bring myself to pray without simply yelling at God (and hence have stopped praying altogether), and despite the fact that I now somewhat dread a temple marriage–as other commenters have said, it’s easier to ignore the implications of certain covenants when they don’t apply to me directly right now–I don’t regret going through the temple when I did. First, I guess I still have enough faith that I think that someday this too shall pass, and someday maybe I’ll be able to have a regular conversation with God again, so why not go through it now, when I don’t have commitments to other people (husband, children) forcing my decisions. Second, and more importantly, I was incredibly grateful to take the temple on its own terms; since I came out of my endowment feeling furious at patriarchy in general and men in specific–a male God, the males who wrote the ceremony, the males who don’t realize how incredibly ill-fitting garments are for my body, etc, etc–and since that anger did, in fact, direct itself at specific men in my life (I could barely talk to my brother, who went through with me, after seeing how easy and natural it seemed for him), I was and am glad that I didn’t have a new husband by my side who would have to deal with that anger. At least this way I get some time–maybe forever!–to work this out on my own before dragging someone else down in my pain and rage, and at least this way I don’t start a new marriage weighed down with these concerns for the first time.

    If that sounds like a roundabout reason to be grateful, well, it is, but those are the facts: I’m upset and hurt and all-around disturbed by my temple experience, but if I had to go back and make the decision again, knowing what I know now, I would still do it. I would just have lower expectations and be prepared for a long struggle:)

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