the mormon temple videos - and why i won't watch them.
This afternoon, my good friend Matthew posted a video on his blog that's titled "Behind the Veil: Never-Before-Seen Footage of Secret Mormon Temple Rituals." From what I understand, it's exactly what you'd expect out of a video with that title. Apparently, a man snuck a hidden camera (or was it several? I've heard both) into the historic Salt Lake City Temple to record some of the most holy and secretive ceremonies that occur inside the building.
I've linked to Matthew's blog above for access to the video, but I'm not going to directly link to the video here, nor will I imbed the video here for others to watch. I fully and completely understand the fascination with the LDS faith. As an evangelical living in Salt Lake City, it's the number one topic I'm asked about from people around the country - What is the Mormon faith and culture really like? People want to know more, especially now, with the LDS church in the national spotlight due to Mitt Romney's candidacy for president. And there are some of us in Salt Lake City who aren't LDS and we are fascinated by it, too. The church's influence is pervasive and found in almost every fiber of this city - so, it's natural to want to know more about the faith and its members - particularly what they do and why its important to them.
Despite our penchant and thirst for more knowledge, particularly about certain faiths that can seem "secretive," there's something about the existence of this collection of footage that just doesn't sit well with me. Others have started the discussion about whether or not secretly recording these ceremonies is the right thing to do, and they can host those moral and philosophical arguments far better than I can. I don't want to get into that argument here.
Let it be known that the mouse was hovered over the "play" button for a really, really long time. I wanted to watch it. I desperately wanted to know what happens inside those Temple doors, only a ten minute walk from my house. I am a very curious person when it comes to religion and today was a big, big test for me.
However, despite the long hovering of the mouse, I actually decided that I'm not going to watch the footage.
[Please know that stating my reason here isn't a condemnation or judgment on anyone who chooses to watch it. I can only make the decision for myself and my choice is my own. And I'm going to be honest here - my biggest reason for writing this post is to have a visible, public reminder to myself regarding why I'm making this choice.]
Here's the thing - I live in Salt Lake City and I'm not a member of the LDS church. I am a part of the religious minority in this state and yeah, that's a pretty weird position to be in as an evangelical. Because of where I live, I interact with LDS members all of the time. Several of my neighbors and the moms I speak to at the park are Mormon. I have dear friends in Austin, San Diego, Raleigh, Denver, New York City, Portland and more places that I haven't mentioned who are all members of the LDS church. A good portion of you who read the posts here are Mormon.
The reason I won't watch the footage is because of those people - my neighbors, my friends, readers and acquaintances. Yes, they are members of a faith that is different. And yes, sometimes that faith is a little secretive. But they are good, humble, beautiful people who take their faith seriously. Some of their faith practices occur in Temples where those of us who aren't members aren't allowed to enter or participate. Frankly, how I feel about the secrecy of their faith doesn't matter. What matters to me is their desire to live as faithful servants to their church.
By watching the footage of those ceremonies, I would not be honoring or respecting their faithfulness. By watching the footage, I wouldn't be able to sit across the table from the missionaries in our neighborhood while having a discussion about faith, and simply say, "I disagree with you, but I respect you, and I respect your commitment to your faith." By watching the footage, I would be disrespecting the faith my friends believe in, stand for and live by. That's just not something I can do to people that I care about.
I just want my relationships with people to be more important than my desire to know a secret. So, if this is one small way I can put those relationships first, then I'm going to choose that option.