I subscribe to several news trackers that send me links to articles on the Mormons. (Mormon is just a nickname for the people who belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) Then I read the articles and the comments and try to correct misinformation. Lately, it seems like a lot of the misinformation involves blood in the Mormon temples.
There are two versions to this rumor, but one way or another, it seems people are desperate to make the temple a bloody or blood-thirsty experience and, of course, it isn’t. I wouldn’t go near one if it were. I am not fond of pain–or blood, for that matter.
Rumor Number 1: Mormons pretend to slit their throats in the temple to show what will happen to them if they tell anyone what happens to them in the temple.
You don’t really believe that one, do you? Yes, Mormons are instructed not to talk about what happens in the temple for the most part, but no, throat slitting isn’t the consequence. The consequence is that you will have broken a sacred oath you made to your Heavenly Father. In the Bible, we learn there are eternal consequences for breaking our covenants with God. A covenant is a promise between you and God. God sets the terms, not you. You have to carry out your part first. When you do, God will always carry out His because God never breaks His promises to us.
And we should never break our promises to Him.
People do, however, which is why God sent His Son Jesus Christ, our Lord, to atone for our sins. If we repent, we can be forgiven of our sins. That said, we can’t just go around saying, “No problem. I’ll sin today and then repent later.” We must make a concentrated effort to keep God’s commandments.
If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).
No true Mormon needs to be threatened with violence to get him to keep his promises to God. This sacred covenant is one he will keep simply because he loves God and the promises he makes to God are important to him. It doesn’t matter to a Mormon how many people casually break their promise and post the temple ceremonies on the Internet or tell (usually incorrectly) how they work. Even if every word were accurately posted somewhere, a true Christian will stay silent simply because he promised he would.
There are penalties, but they are not violent ones. God has outlined the eternal penalties we face when we don’t obey the commandments and those are the penalties we face if we break our covenant. You might also lose the right to go to the temple—but you certainly don’t belong in a place where you are making covenants if you don’t intend to keep them.
Rumor 2: Mormons shed their own blood in the temple so they won’t need Jesus or the atonement.
This is the weirdest of all the temple rumors I’ve heard. The temple focuses on the Savior. There have been thousands of talks by church leaders on the subject of the atonement. If you open a Mormon hymn book, to the theme list, you’ll see that atonement suggests you look under five different aspects of the subject. Thirty hymns are listed just under Sacrament category and there are still four more to look at. Sacrament is the Mormon word for communion. The Sacrament is about the atonement. Mormons take bread and water (instead of wine) to represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ. This happens every Sunday in the basic worship service and every member partakes of it—even those who have been to the temple.
Gordon B. Hinckley, a recent past Mormon prophet, said:
“He lives, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, whose Atonement came as an act of grace for the entire world. … He has done for us what we could not do for ourselves. He has brought meaning to our mortal existence. He has given us the gift of eternal life. … God be thanked for the gift of His Son, the Redeemer of the world, the Savior of mankind, the Prince of Life and Peace, the Holy One” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “A Testimony of the Son of God,” Ensign, Dec 2002, 2–5)
Mormons believe the atonement is the greatest gift anyone has ever given us. There is no possible way to be saved without it because justice requires we live a sinless life in order to return to God. Only mercy, which comes to us through the atonement, allowed for a mediator who would come to Earth and be our Savior, and this Savior is Jesus Christ. As mentioned at the start of the article, the true name of the church the Mormons belong to is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is at the center of the name because it is at the center of the church. In the Book of Mormon, we learn that Jesus taught a select group of Christians that if a church is named after a man, it will be that man’s church. If they wanted their church to be Christ’s church, they needed to name it after Him—and they did.
There is no question by anyone who spends even a few minutes at LDS.org or Mormon.org, two official Mormon websites, that Mormons believe in the atonement. In fact, in many ways, their beliefs about the atonement bring a greater sense of gratitude because they teach that in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Lord took on each individual sin of each individual person, suffering tremendously, so much so that an angel had to strength him. This act of individual suffering for each person in the world gives Mormons a greater sense of responsibility toward the Savior and His atonement.