Monday, January 23, 2012

More apostolic counsel some might have missed...

Last week I blogged about apostolic counsel regarding beards. I must say, there were lots of hits to that post – it rose to one of my top ten posts in two days, and over the weekend it hit the top five. This one might not be so interesting. But I thought I’d note some other apostolic counsel that might have gone unnoticed.

Elder Scott spoke about temple worship in 2009. His talk is here.

In his talk, Elder Scott lists ten things we can do to improve our temple worship.

Number six on his list:

Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord.

Now, I attend the temple pretty regularly. And lots of people I see haven’t removed their watches. I’ve not heard anyone repeat Elder Scott’s counsel in any meetings. But I try to remember to take off my watch when I’m in the temple. Why? Because that bit of counsel is really helpful to me. It helps to center me on the moment that I am in the temple. I’m less tempted to think into the future to the next three things on my day’s agenda. And the act of removing my watch is a physical reminder of the timelessness of the work I do in the temple.

Do I believe that the removal of my watch when entering the temple is a commandment?


Why not? An apostle said it in conference.

If it were a commandment, as I suggested in my last post, I suspect it would have been discussed more in conference and in policy documents from the church.

Is it good counsel?

You bet. I try to follow it, and it helps me to feel more “present” in the temple, just as Elder Scott said it would.

What about all those people wearing watches in the temple session?

What about them? They are not my responsibility. Maybe they didn’t pick up on Elder Scott’s counsel. Maybe they just forgot this time around to remove their watch. Maybe for some reason they need to wear a watch. In reality, it doesn’t make any difference at all to my temple worship unless I worry about it. Which I don’t.

I don’t think someone who wears a watch in the temple is making a grave error. Maybe for him or her the counsel isn’t as important because a watch is not a distraction as it is for me.

By the way, here’s Elder Scott’s complete list. There’s some really good stuff here:

Understand the doctrine related to temple ordinances, especially the significance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

While participating in temple ordinances, consider your relationship to Jesus Christ and His relationship to our Heavenly Father. This simple act will lead to greater understanding of the supernal nature of the temple ordinances.

Always prayerfully express gratitude for the incomparable blessings that flow from temple ordinances. Live each day so as to give evidence to Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son of how very much those blessings mean to you.

Schedule regular visits to the temple.

Leave sufficient time to be unhurried within the temple walls.

Rotate activities so that you can participate in all of the ordinances of the temple.

Remove your watch when you enter a house of the Lord.

Listen carefully to the presentation of each element of the ordinance with an open mind and heart.

Be mindful of the individual for whom you are performing the vicarious ordinance. At times pray that he or she will recognize the vital importance of the ordinances and be worthy or prepare to be worthy to benefit from them.

Recognize that much of the majesty of the sealing ordinance cannot be understood and remembered with one live experience. Substantial subsequent vicarious work permits one to understand much more of what is communicated in the live ordinances.

Realize that a sealing ordinance is not enduring until after it is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Both individuals must be worthy and want the sealing to be eternal.


  1. I understand the distinction you are making between counsel and commandment - but at what point does "good counsel" become "commandment". When it is mentioned in Conference twice? Three times? Seven? What is the magic number?

    If it isn't printed in the handbook or on policy documents, does that imply that there is does not reach commandment level at all?

    I would be curious to know God's view of the distinction between "counsel", "suggestion", "Commandment", or "advice" I see trying to following the "counsel" of our leaders as part an parcel of sustaining our leaders. In my perspective, picking and choosing - finding gray areas - is a slippery slope.

  2. These are fair questions, and I suppose everyone answers them for himself.

    Commandments are pretty clear to me: There are two Big Ones -- Love God, Love your fellow man. There are 10 supporting commandments that are popular in the religious world (see Exodus 20).

    And then there are those items that are in the temple recommend interview, which are important to demonstrate worthiness to attend the temple (and participate in other ordinances) which would include Tithing and Word of Wisdom. (Honesty, mentioned in the TR questions, is one of the Bit Ten.)

    I think what you're asking is about accepting counsel and the relationship to sustaining our leaders (also a TR question).

    My sense is that from the beginning of the restoration, the church has been growing in its understanding of doctrine, ordinances and practices in the gospel. Some programs have sprung from test cases or pilot programs (like seminary or Sunday School), and others have come from the mouth of God and been enacted instantly (like baptisms for the dead).

    In the case of baptism for the dead, even that practice was modified over time in terms of who is baptized for whom and how the ordinances are recorded.

    This is why our handbooks (which have been characterized as a standardization of our practices, not a list of commandments) are updated from time to time, because practices change.

    I think President Hinckley's piercing direction is helpful. He publicly stated in a general YW meeting that women should have one set of ear piecings, not more. He then repeated that counsel in a talk the next week in general PH. And then his direction was included in the next For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. The direction was clear and the standard was "standardized". Some may not like the standard, but it's clear.

    Elder Scott's no-watch recommendation is the only one of its kind as far as I know. And personally I think it's a great idea (as are all ten of the items on the list). But nobody talked to me about it in my recent temple recommend interview. And at least three brethren in my session on Saturday were wearing watches. Are they less worthy? I don't think so. They might be forgoing some blessings of following Elder Scott's counsel, however.

    I don't know if that addresses your questions. Please let me know if not. The discussion is good for me, too -- I've certainly not completely settled this thought in my mind.

  3. I tend to believe that Elder Scott would be deeply saddened if he heard that members were condemning other members for wearing watches in temples. I believe he offered it as advice, not as commandment. Good advice, which some members might accept and some might not.

  4. ji, I agree with you. In fact, I said the same about Elder Nelson in my prior post. I don't think any of the apostles are in the business of stirring us up to judge one another.

    But I think that would be true if this were a "commandment" or "counsel" or "advice."

  5. Interesting comments.

    I, too, try to follow Elder Scott's counsel, and leave my watch in the locker. It helps me focus on the message of the session, rather than on the passage of time.

    On a more humorous note... I have always tried to at least hide my watch (i.e. keep it under my sleeve), ever since the woman next to me saw my watch and almost had a heart attack. We were in the Chicago Temple, but my watch was on Michigan time (an hour later). She was shocked (and in a bit of a panic) to see how 'late' it was...!

  6. Robin, LOL! I suppose that's another reason to leave the watch behind, so it won't distract (or give heart attacks) to others.

  7. My mission president, Elder LeGrand R. Curtis, (Sr.) taught us that when the general authorities say something in conference such as: we encourage, we suggest, we advise, it would be wise to, or other such words, that we should take this as a commandment. I don't think we're supposed to judge others, but those with ears to hear and eyes to see will pick up on the commandments and obey them. We're told that we "shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God." (D&C 84:44, and that "whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same." (D&C 1:38)
    That is why I listen carefully during conference and then read and re-read the Ensign following conference. There is so much to help us purify our lives, repent and improve.

  8. Rosy, I think you're right that it's good to follow prophetic counsel.

    Those who have ears to hear do hear. And those who don't don't.

    Should we judge those who don't? I don't think you're suggesting that we should. Some may not hear because that bit of counsel isn't the most important thing for them in their personal progression. Of course others may not hear because they are rebellious and choose not to.

    If we hear counsel that doesn't ring true to us, then it's time to study it out, and go to the Lord in prayer. We may even want to follow the Savior's teaching in John 7:17.