Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Doesn't My Service Count?

Note to readers: this post is full of Mormon references. I've tried to make it comprehensible to the non-Mormon, since the feelings behind it are universal and human. I hope it goes without saying that my readers are respectful enough to not post comments denigrating my religion.

The weekend before last, Favorite Husband and I went to the temple. Someone (I don't know who) came up with the idea that to honor the late Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of our church president Gordon B. Hinckley, we should have a "temple drive" of sorts and try to reach a specified goal of increased temple service in the month of October. I didn't see anything wrong with a "temple drive", although I was a little bit uncomfortable with doing it in honor of Sister Hinckley. Sister Hinckley was a great person, but something tells me she's a little too humble to want to be singled out for honor like that. And besides, I don't believe we should elevate our church leaders like that, let alone their wives. They are in positions of authority, but I think some people's adoration of them borders on saint worship.

When we got to the temple, a sign was up at the front desk saying they needed people to participate in sealing ceremonies (eternal marriage ceremonies, done by proxy for our ancestors). Typically a session of temple service is participation in the endowment ceremony on our ancestors' behalf, and this is done individually. Sealing ceremonies, however, cannot proceed without the presence of three or four men, and it is not uncommon to see a sign there suggesting people go up and do sealing ceremonies. Since F.H. and I like to serve where we are most needed at the temple, we went up and did sealings instead of endowments. We had a great time, met some people who were related to other people we knew, and the temple president himself popped his head in and thanked us for our service in the temple.

This Sunday at church, a clipboard was circulated whereon people who had gone to the temple as part of this "temple drive" were to record their service so that it could be counted toward the goal. But I was told they only wanted to count endowments done, and that sealings didn't count. After the lady collecting the data had said the words "sealings don't count," another lady realized how crass that sounded and assured me that, in the eternal perspective, sealings do count, just, um, not for purposes of these statistics. Nice save, but a little too late.

The sealing ceremonies are just as important as the endowment ceremonies, but it seems to me that the person who cooked up this "temple drive" idea must be one of those people who evaluates righteousness by bean-counting selected good works. You know, one of those who judges the success of someone's mission by how many people they baptized. We should rejoice in the service of our Lord, no matter what the statistics say. Making service all about the statistics, especially service in the temple, I think is wrong. Even though I'm all for increased temple attendance, I don't like this "temple drive" one bit.