Singles at the Temple (from the series: Single and Married in the LDS Church)
Note about the Singles Series:
This is the last post in this series: “Single and Married in the LDS Church”, which has run for over 2 weeks. We have tried to post about a variety of topics that touch the lives of LDS singles, but we realize that we did not cover them all. There are other singles not addressed in this series, such as widow(er)s and LGBT members. There are also other situations, such as single parenthood, that were not addressed. We wish that we could have covered them all, but hope that our offering of available resources has been enlightening and beneficial to you, our readers.
And, now, our concluding post: Singles at the Temple.
“I love to see the temple, I’ll go inside someday– to covenant with my Father; I’ll promise to obey. For the temple is a Holy Place – where we are sealed together. As a child of God, I know this truth: a family is forever.”
As a Young Woman, I wore in my mother’s wedding dress for pictures in front of the Boise Temple. (I did this gladly at the time, but the thought horrifies me now.)
I was taught that temples = families and marriages.
As I grew older and remained unmarried, the temple became a place of sadness; a place where I was reminded of what I lacked rather than what I was given; a place of remorse rather than of peace. My initial excitement for the temple became avoidance (especially on Saturday mornings when I was sure to see many happy brides).
I wanted to love the temple, I wanted to feel peace, I wanted to commune with God. But I was distracted by the heavy Sunday School rhetoric that joined the temple with the eternal family I didn’t have.
The Angel Moroni
I persisted in my attendance with a determination to find solutions, albeit less frequently. One day as I walked toward the white spires, I noticed the angel Moroni – at the very top – all alone. “Well”, I thought, “he’s alone (maybe even single) and he’s here.” It gave me a bit of a lift as I went in. Later that night, I read about Moroni in Mormon 8:5. “And behold, I would write if I had room, but I have not; and ore I have none, for I am alone. My father hath been slain in battle, and all my kinsfolk, and I have not friends nor whither to go; and how long the Lord will suffer that I live I know not.”
After that, I purposefully looked for Moroni. He was a symbol of solidarity with my situation. His example of faithfulness in the midst of trial gave me courage to go in – alone. He became an anchor – that brought calm to my heart and spirit. This allowed me to begin to hear and see better. And as I could more fully commune with the Divine, I grew in understanding.
My Journey to Wholeness
Not long ago, while teaching the Primary children about baptism, it struck me that this ordinance was a solo commitment. I taught the children that baptism is a covenant that you make with God; just you and God.
I then began to think of other saving ordinances, my confirmation, initiatory, and endowment. They each are covenants I made one-on –one with God. (This is an idea that my theologian friend, Maxine Hanks, has often shared.)
As a single woman, who often looks for ways to fit myself into church doctrine, I was excited about this idea. The next time I attended the temple, I went with this frame in mind. And it made for a more powerful, meaningful experience. I looked for symbols and references to the individual.
I saw the temple bringing me, an indiviual soul together with God. As I made covenants with God, I felt myself coming together with God –becoming whole. And when I am whole, I can enter the presence of God. Upon this realization, my worship did not include my missing spouse or missing children; it was about me, myself, on a quest to return to my real home and my divine family. I took these lessons from the temple and used them in my life and work and extended family.
In the endowment, when the session ends and the veil is lifted, I see heaven and earth become one. I see the heavenly parent and the earthly child come together with a single understanding. The natural woman is consumed by the spirit. And it is then, when we are all made whole – and covered by the atonement of Christ – we pass into the presence of God, our Father and our Mother.
(The temple hold many layers of symbolism. I share only a small piece of the symbolic nature in order to demonstrate how the temple can be more meaningful to the individual.)
Mysteries & Temple Worship
The temple can be a place of meditation and contemplation. When I was younger, I focused much of my seeking on specific answers for my life: where should I go to school, how should I direct my career, how should I manage a relationship. But as I grow older and mature – many of those life questions settle. So, rather than ask specific earth life questions, I find myself contemplating “the mysteries of God”. (Nephi 10:17 “I was desirous that I might see, and hear, and know of these things by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God to all who diligently seek him.”) Though I am far from comprehending all that I wish, I am learning. Many ideas have impressed me. I sense the understanding of things in my spirit that are hard to write or verbalize.
As a single member of the church there are some parts of my life that are simple -and I find that simplicity allows my mind and spirit to be free of some concerns, allowing the spirit to teach me directly.
Single Members & Unique Insights
As Kristine Haglund writes in an early blog post in this series, “[Singles] are also in a unique position to … teach. Simply by existing within the body of Christ, unmarried Saints open space for a richer and deeper understanding of God.” Single members have unique insights learned through sacred, lonely experience. Aloneness can heighten holy worship.
I encourage my single friends to use their unique temple experiences to teach the gospel in new ways. With the springboard of singular communion with God, offer understanding to the wholeness of all members. And I encourage married members to seek out their single friends for spiritual nurture, counsel, and blessing. Single members share in God’s bounty, consecrations, and inheritance.