As I entered the Celestial Room for the very first time, my eyes were filled with tears. Not tears of joy. No, I was crying tears of confusion. I had been told all my life that going to the temple would be a very peaceful and spiritual experience. But there I was surrounded with loving family in the one of the holiest places on Earth, and all I could think was, "What was that all about?"
Much of what happens inside the temple is sacred, but that shouldn't stop us from discussing what we can discuss. Let us not take our sacred covenants to an extreme point of hiding behind our own ignorance.
President Benson said, "Because of [the Temple’s] sacredness we are sometimes reluctant to say anything about the Temple to our children and grandchildren. As a consequence, many do not develop a real desire to go to the Temple, or when they go there, they do so without much background to prepare them for the obligations and covenants they enter into." (President Benson, “What I Hope You Will Teach Your Children about the Temple,” Ensign, August (1985): 6-10, emphasis added)
Hugh Nibley similarly wrote:
"What the Mormons like best about their temples is the obligation of secrecy that exonerates them from ever having to speak, and hence to think, about what they have learned by the ordinances and teachings. So strict are they in observing the confidential nature of those teachings that they, for the most part, scrupulously avoid dropping so much as a hint to outsiders by putting any of them into practice." (Petersen, Hugh Nibley: A Consecrated Life, 361)
On one occasion, I was having a gospel discussion with a close friend of mine. I quoted a scripture that happened to have similar verbiage as one of the temple ceremonies. My friend's eyes instantly grew wide and they cautioned me to be more careful in what I said. I pointed out that my words came straight from the scriptures, but my friend still wasn't quite sure about it.
It's true that outside the temple we must use extreme care, speaking only of those things that are in the scriptures or in the official publications of the Church. However, those things are not few. We must study the scriptures and as we do so, let this counsel be our guide: "Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit; and in this there is no condemnation" (D&C 63:64).
It's also a matter of preparation. In the case of my first temple experience, I was ill-prepared. Not only are there mission-prep classes, books about preparing for the temple, and scriptures to help us learn, but we are told to pray for understanding. How often do we kneel before or after temple attendance and beseech the Lord to teach us some edifying truth from our experience? Let us not be like the Zoramites who "returned to their homes, never speaking of [the temple] again." (Alma 31:23, "the temple" changed from "their God").
So what exactly can we say about what happens inside the temple? We are openly taught about the doctrines of the creation, the fall, the atonement, and our return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. We are also openly taught about chastity, obedience, sacrifice, and consecration. These are doctrines that every member, endowed or not, should understand.
And what should we keep sacred? A good rule of thumb is to not discuss the sacred ordinances and ceremonies of the temple further than has previously been published about them by the Church. But as you study, you'll find that those things may be fewer than you thought.
It took a lot of study, preparation, and seeking personal revelation, but now when I visit the temple, I am filled with peace and comfort. I don't understand everything, but I understand a little more each time I go. There is much about the temple that we can talk about while we are on the outside, we just need to learn how to do it to be respectful of the sacred nature of the Lord’s house.Becky Squire is a writer and speaker. She has been published in several media outlets including the Ensign, LDS Living, and the Today Show. She's also the founding editor of Latter-Day Woman Magazine. Follow Becky Squire on Instagram