In the LDS temple a person takes on covenants. These are promises between you and God, things you promise and presumably will be rewarded for if you hold to that promise. The main ceremony in the temple is called the endowment. It comes after what are known as initiatories.
In the intiatories you receive blessings and anointings to become Gods and Goddesses, if you are super awesome you later on get a second anointing (also known as having your calling and election made sure) where you are made Gods and Goddesses. It is a ceremony that that involves females in priesthood ordinances. (making it even more unique) but this post isn’t about that.
This one is about the endowment, the ceremony that all temple going LDS members are familiar with. To many the first time through the temple is a bit unnerving, you don’t expect anything that goes on there because it is all kept secret from you before going in. You are even given a chance to bailout before they tell you what is going on. But seriously who is gonna walk out in front of all your relatives and people you look up to in there watching you go through this?
I personally went pre 1990, before they removed the penalties of death from the oaths. I still remember how freaky those were and how surprised I was that these ordinances decreed by God himself to his prophets had changed when I got back from my mission. But even more than that there was this one covenant that always worried me. A promise to avoid loud laughter. Seriously you promise to do that. Right between the promise to not say anything bad about church leaders and the promise to avoid light mindedness.
This one really worried me. Because I am a natural goof I suppose, I love to laugh loud and enjoy my life. My whole family does. Poking fun, having a great sense of humor. It was a major survival skill for me. Sometimes I’d be full on belly laughing and just cut it off to avoid it. After a while I decided God must have meant only laughing about church stuff or making fun of that. So I figured normal laughing as ok, even if it was ‘loud’. I like most believers rationalized my own behavior by liberally applying my own interpretation to the cognitive dissonance created by these conflicting beliefs.
These days I am pretty light minded all the time. Don’t worry about much about all this speaking evil of the church and its leaders either. I figure if I am wrong about this religion and it really is the one-‘n-only-right-one, then I am pretty well screwed in the next life. And you know what? To me that is ok. Because of one reason. I am not afraid. I am not going to go quietly into the night pretending to be someone I am not because of a threat of eternal damnation. This being that I was taught loved me as a father seems to think that love requires me to kneel in front of him and not think for myself. As a father who deeply loves my own children, the very last thing I would have them do is kneel and worship me. I would never tell my kids to stop thinking and reasoning for themselves. Because that is not love. Demanding obedience and threatening punishment is not love. It is oppression. It is not kindness, it is fear mongering.
A leader that uses threats to control is not a person worth following. And that is ultimately what most religions teach, do or be damned. A father that beats his children when he screw’s up is not a perfect being and not worthy of unquestioning obedience. So if I’m wrong and the Mormon God whom I covenanted with in the temple is real. And because of my apostasy I am prevented from living with my family in the next life or condemned to outer darkness on judgement day. So be it. I will gladly face him and laugh out loud. Because fear no longer controls me.