Why my wife loves doing initiatories at the temple

My wife and I went to the temple yesterday and did initiatories.  She loves doing initiatories.  We try to mix things up a bit on our monthly trips:  endowments, sealings, initiatories and the occasional baptism.  My favorite place remains the sealing room.  But my wife says she loves the quiet and Spirit behind those curtains doing initiatories.

And she points out that it is one of the few places in the Church where you can see women performing priesthood ordinances.

My wife went through an interesting and I would say pretty typical process in her early twenties.  She went to Ricks College and then a liberal art school.  She really struggled with the patriarchal nature of the Church.  As she describes it, she was a strong, career-oriented young woman in a Church that was constantly pushing her to be a wife and mother.  Didn’t she have any value beyond that?

She kept on getting promptings that she should go on a mission, but she resisted the promptings for a year or so.  And then finally she gave in, and she put in her papers and now says the mission was one of the greatest experiences of her life.

Before going on her mission, she needed to get her endowments and do her initiatory.  She describes with amazement the fact that during her initiatory women came in and laid hands on her head to seal the blessings.  This is the first time she had ever see a woman lay on hands, and it was a pivotal experience for her.  Her main thought was that there are many things about womens’ responsibilities in the priesthood that we don’t understand right now.  “Those are priestesses who are laying on hands, people who have a form of the priesthood,” she said.  And it made her realize that she had completely misunderstood and underestimated the role of women in the Lord’s church.

My wife sees men and women having different but completely complementary roles within the Church.  We have often talked about the Eastern symbol of yin and yang — that’s how she sees it.  Women have the responsibility of bringing new souls into the world and nurturing those souls  — that is an incredibly important priesthood responsibility.  Men have the more obvious role of presiding and guiding the Church.  But neither of the roles is less important or more important — they are complementary.

She says she is reminded of that every time she does initiatories.  So, it seems to me the temple is more important than I ever imagined it would be.

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About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

20 thoughts on “Why my wife loves doing initiatories at the temple

  1. I love the Initiatory experience too. I like to think that both men and women hold the priesthood, but they have different responsibilities. Before we enter the doors of the temple we each have only the responsibility of giving birth. The women give physical birth while the men give spiritual, through their administrative keys that allow them to preform those ordinances necessary for spiritual birth. Once inside the temple both men and women perform priesthood responsibilities in the same manner. Have you ever seen an Endowment session without a follower as well as an officiator? It is a beautiful plan to exalt all of Heavenly Father’s children.

  2. This is nice, Geoff. I love initiatory for the same reason. One thing I sometimes wish is that men could see women doing it. I think it would help men see women in a new light–not just men who have a problem with not respecting women enough (though it would be great for them), but for all men. My husband had been going to the temple for something like 7 years before we married (I was endowed the day before our wedding). When I shared the feelings your wife describes with him, he was a little surprised that women were administering those ordinances. Of course, as soon as he knew it, it made perfect sense to him, but he just hadn’t thought about how that part works for women before. So it’s possible even for endowed men to not even know this is happening, much less witness it.

  3. Inthedoghouse, I really hope you can make it out of the dog house soon because I like all of your comments. Cynthia, great point. I have to admit a tiny, tiny bit of surprise when I learned that women were laying on hands as well, but of course it makes perfect sense when you think about it.

  4. This is the reason why whenever someone asks “Will women ever receive the priesthood?” my immediate answer is “Yes. Duh.” They practically do already. Elder Talmadge said:

    In the restored Church of Jesus Christ, the Holy Priesthood is conferred, as an individual bestowal, upon men only, and this in accordance with Divine requirement. It is not given to women to exercise the authority of the Priesthood independently; nevertheless, in the sacred endowments associated with the ordinances pertaining to the House of the Lord, woman shares with man the blessings of the Priesthood. When the failities and imperfections of mortality are left behind, in the glorified state of the blessed hereafter, husband and wife will administer in their respective stations, seeing and understanding alike, and cooperating to the full in the government of their family kingdom. Then shall woman be recompensed in rich measure for all the injustice that womanhood has endured in mortality. Then shall woman reign by Divine right, a queen in the resplendent realm of her glorified state, even as exalted man shall stand, priest and king unto the Most High God. Mortal eye cannot see nor mind comprehend the beauty, glory, and majesty of a righteous woman made perfect in the celelstial kingdom of God (qtd in Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith, p 137)

  5. Amen.

    My wife also loves the initiatory ordinance, but both of us liked the previous version even more than the current one. I understand why it had to be revised in a society that has almost a paranoia associated with touching other people, and I really like the addition of the historical context, but we both really miss the more elaborate physicality we used to experience.

  6. Nice post, Geoff. I have a couple of related thoughts.

    1) When my dad was a bishop he used to counsel couples to go to the temple, do initiatories, and meet in the Celestial Room to discuss the differences between his and hers initiatories.

    2) During my mission in Brazil (where the word for priesthood is “sacerdócio”), there was a coined word among the missionaries for what the female temple workers employ: sisterdócio.

  7. Geoff, you said it so simply and yet, so well: “Women have the responsibility of bringing new souls into the world and nurturing those souls — that is an incredibly important priesthood responsibility. Men have the more obvious role of presiding and guiding the Church.”


  8. One feminist sister in the ward was decrying the fact that woment “can’t have the priesthood.” I told her to pay closer attention to the beginning of the endowment ceremony.

  9. Great post, Geoff.

    I have always enjoyed doing initiatories simply because of the immediacy of the blessings pronounced during the ceremonies. All other temple ordinances have eternal blessings pronounced, whereas initiatories have immediate and temporal implications, not just eternal.

    When I was an ordinance worker in the temple I was worried that I would not be able to learn initiatories. I was pleasantly surpised and immensely blessed when I learned the ceremonies and was able to perform them without error.

    Bryan H: I love the quote by Elder James E. Talmage. Thank you for sharing that.

  10. A few people on this thread have discussed surprise at women performing this ordinance and then rushed in a “of course it makes perfect sense” much like Seinfeld’s “not that there’s anything wrong with that.”

    Forgive me for my ignorance, but why does it make “perfect sense” in this context? Why would women performing ordinances in OTHER contexts NOT make perfect sense?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

  11. ESO. you’re looking for controversy where there is none. If you go to a sacrament meeting, you will see men performing the ordinances. Men perform most of the ordinances at the temple. So, most people like myself think to themselves, “well, for whatever reason God has men performing most ordinances in His Church.” So, if you are like me you hear that a woman is laying on hands during an initiatory, you think, “wow, that’s different. Pretty cool, never seen a woman lay on hands. But it makes sense.” That’s what is meant by the comment.

  12. Not really looking for a controversy, I just don’t understand the comment. I grew up in the Church where, yes, men perform every ordinance, and we are told that is the way things are. It seems, then, that it would make perfect sense in that paradigm for men to be performing all temple ordinances as well. I thought maybe I was missing something that it made “perfect sense” for women to do that one thing in the temple.

  13. Oh, and just to be clear, I am not trying to be provocative. To me, it DOES make perfect sense that women would officiate in Priesthood ordinances, and not just the initiatories, but we currently don’t.

  14. IMHO we men have it easy. Maybe the Lord give us priesthood ordinances to keep us from being completely useless.
    Women have the highest and most sacred responsibility…to be mothers and “raise up rightous seed”.

    …my 2 cents

  15. ESO,
    Men performing the old initiatory on women? Gimme a break! Do the FLDS do that?

    On the simplified version, I look forward to when all the temple stuff is modernized. I can’t be the only one considering I’m not young anymore. Piecemeal reforms never make sense to me. A Matrix theme version would be neat.

    On women being given priesthood keys, they used to have women blessing the sick, but I don’t know who put a stop to it. Were other keys given to women that have been since taken away?

  16. Fwiw, there’s a different between Priesthood power and authority and Priesthood keys. Endowed women still have the first two; they do not have the third – but neither do very many men.

  17. I love doing initiatories. Some of my most spiritual and awe-inspiring times have been spent doing them. To me, this is the time in the temple, when we women of the church get to really feel the special regard in which our Heavenly Father holds his daughters.And not only that – whether you are taking a family name with you, or that of somebody else’s -you are putting one of Heavenly Father’s daughters on the first step home to him.God bless and keep you safe.

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