Tidjwe posted this elsewhere and I thought it was a really helpful explanation about what happens inside the LDS temple. So for the benefit of non-LDS and LDS who have never been to the temple
One thing that really bothers me is the misunderstandings about the temple. The ONLY THING that members covenant not to talk about is that the signs and tokens are. You can’t tell anyone the special handshakes, and you can’t tell them the names of them. That’s it. As long as you don’t reveal what they are, you aren’t breaking any temple covenants.
I think they should just come out and say “First you’ll go into a room where they’ll symbolically wash and anoint you on your forehead to dedicate your life and body to serving God. There you’ll recieve your garment and then you’ll go to a room with a bunch of other strangers, and they perform a big massive ordinance all at the same time for all of you…it’s not some special event where everyone is there just for you like it is at a sealing or baptism. You will watch a movie about the creation where they will talk about certain precepts that you should make characteristics in your life and they will be represented by certain signs, etc to help you remember them. After the movie is over you will line up at curtain (veil) and repeat back those signs and their meaning and then pass through it and go into a beautiful room called the Celestial room where it will be peaceful and you can pray or meditate or just relax for a few minutes.”
That would’ve been a lot more helpful to me than reading Boyd K’s book on the matter that says basically nothing and makes no sense if you haven’t been through. or taking all the temple classes that still don’t tell you anything to expect. It really pissed me off…I had no clue at all and was completely lost the whole time.
The ordinance itself probably doesn’t do anything. Most of the temple stuff is symbolic. It teaches us the characteristics we need in order to be exalted. Service, Unity, Sacrifice, obedience, Charity, etc. It’s not some magical thing.
Also, a lot of the temple stuff used to happen outside the temple. Many temple ordinances were performed in the mountains, and the rivers, and in Joseph Smith’s house in the early church. Also, until a couple/few decades ago, most High Priest groups used to meet on Sunday, go to their quorum room in their temple clothes and several performed some of the token/signs from the endowment including the true order of prayer. After their quorum meeting was over they’d change back into normal church clothes and go to Sacrament or whatever was next. I mean it’s not until fairly recently that it got a lot more restrictive.