The Endowment

The order of the House of God has been, and ever will be the same, even after Christ comes; and after the termination of the thousand years it will be the same.  (Prophet Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 91)

Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell.  Who has received and understands such an endowment, in this assembly? You need not answer. Your voices would be few and far between, yet the keys to these endowments are among you, and thousands have received them.  (Brigham Young, April 6, 1853, JD 2:31)

I [Joseph Smith] spent the day [Tuesday, 3 May 1842] in the upper part of the store, that is in my private office * * * in council with General James Adams, of Springfield, Patriarch Hyrum Smith, Bishops Newel K. Whitney and George Miller, and President Brigham Young and Elders Heber C. Kimball and Willard Richards, instructing them in the principles and order of the Priesthood, attending to washings, anointings, endowments and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so on to the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood, setting forth the order pertaining to the Ancient of Days, and all those plans and principles by which any one is enabled to secure the fullness of those blessing which have been prepared for the Church of the Firstborn, and come up and abide in the presence of the Eloheim in the eternal worlds.  In this council was instituted the ancient order of things for the first time in these last days.  And the communications I made to this council were of things spiritual, and to be received only by the spiritual minded: and there was nothing made known to these men but what will be made known to all the Saints of the last days, so soon as they are prepared to receive, and a proper place is prepared to communicate them, even to the weakest of the Saints; therefore let the Saints be diligent in building the Temple, and all houses which they have been, or shall hereafter be, commanded of God to build; and wait their time with patience in all meekness, faith, perseverance unto the end, knowing assuredly that all these things referred to in this council are always governed by the principle of revelation.  (Joseph Smith, TPJS, p. 237, DHC 5:1-2, May 4, 1842)

He [Joseph Smith] told us that the object he had was for us to go to work and fit up that room [the upper room of Joseph Smith’s “Red Brick Store”] preparatory to giving endow­ments to a few Elders that he might give unto them all the keys of power pertaining to the Aaronic and Melchisedec [sic] Priesthoods(Lucius N. Scovil, letter to Editor in “Higher Ordinances,” Deseret News Semi-Weekly, 15 February 1884, as quoted in Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question, Andrew F. Ehat, Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1982, p. 26)

When we got our washings and anointings under the hands of the Prophet Joseph at Nauvoo, we had only one room to work in, with the exception of a little side room or office where we were washed and anointed, had our garments placed upon us and received our new name.  And after he had performed these ceremonies, he gave the keywords, signs, tokens, and penalties. Then after, we went into the large room over the store in Nauvoo, Joseph divided up the room the best that he could, hung up the veil, marked it, gave us our instructions as we passed along from one department to another, giving us signs, tokens, penalties, with the key-words pertaining to those signs.  After we had got through, Bro. Joseph turned to me (Prest. B. Young) and said, “Bro. Brigham this is not arranged right but we have done the best we could under the circumstances in which we are placed, and I wish you to take this matter in hand and organize and systematize all these ceremonies, with the signs, tokens, penalties and key words.”  I did so and each time I got something more, so that when we went through the Temple at Nauvoo I understood and knew how to place them there.  We had our ceremonies pretty correct.  (Statement of Brigham Young, recorded in the diary of L. John Nuttall, February 7, 1877, as cited in God, Man, And The Universe, by Hyrum L. Andrus, 1968, p. 334)

They [those who received the first endowments from Joseph Smith in Nauvoo] received the “keys of the priesthood,” viz., signs, tokens, penalties and key words; some pertained to the Aaronic Priesthood, others pertained to the Melchizedek Priesthood; however, the keys given were all of the keys given in the order of the Ancient of Days (Adam) or Patriarchal Priesthood. (Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Mormon Succession Question, Andrew F. Ehat, Master’s Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1982, p. 29-30)

I preached in the grove, on the keys of the kingdom, charity, &c. The keys are certain signs and words by which false spirits and personages may be detected from true, which cannot be revealed to the Elders till the Temple is completed. The rich can only get them in the Temple, the poor may get them on the mountain top as did Moses. The rich cannot be saved without charity, giving to feed the poor when and how God requires, as well as building. There are signs in heaven, earth and hell; the Elders must know them all, to be endowed with power, to finish their work and prevent imposition.  (Prophet Joseph Smith, May 1, 1842, DHC 4:608)

But I wish you to understand, with regard to the Ordinances of God’s House to save the people in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, there is no change from the days of Adam to the present time, neither will there be until the last of his posterity is gathered into the Kingdom of God.  Those who are not acquainted with our doctrine are astonished, and say, “That is strange indeed; we thought no such thing as preaching faith, repentance, and baptism was practiced in ancient, or Old Testament timed,” I can tell you that no man from the days of Adam, no women from the days of Eve to this day, who have lived, and who are no living upon the earth will go into the Kingdom of their Father and God, to be crowned with Jesus Christ, without passing through the same Ordinances of the House of God, you and I have obeyed.  I wish you distinctly to understand that. (Manuscript Addresses of Brigham Young, October 8, 1854)

The g[rand] key word was the first word Adam spoke and is a word of supplication. He [Joseph] found the word by the Urim & Thummim—it is that key word to which the heavens is [sic] opened. (William Clayton Journal, June 15, 1844)

Now, concerning the endowment, in all its phases. My own [Wilford Woodruff’s] views are these—that we ought to follow out, as far as we can, the pattern laid down by our leaders. I consider that if there ever was a man who thoroughly understood the principle of the Endowments it was Brigham Young. He has been with Joseph Smith from the beginning of the Endowments, to the end, and he understood it if any man did. And before his death he required me to write a Book, every ordinance of the Church and Kingdom of God, from the first to the last, beginning with baptism, to the last ordinance performed, through every department of the endowments. I was several weeks doing this writing, and President Young corrected it all, until he got through. Then he said to me “Now, there you have a pattern of all the ordinances or endowments for every temple we shall build, until the coming of the Son of Man.”

Now, if I ever have anything to do or say, in any Temple on the earth, concerning the Endowment, I would say: follow the pattern that President Young has set us, and not deviate from it one iota. And if we do that, we may have a hundred Temples at work, and all the work and ceremonies will be alike in every Temple. While on the other hand, if every man who is called to preside over a Temple has his own way, and introduces his own form of ceremonies, our Temple work would be as diverse as the sectarian world, and God would not approbate it.

Brother Roskelley, I have given endowments in Salt Lake City for twenty years, and I received my endowments under the hand of the Prophet Joseph Smith. I directed the fixing up of the Temple in St. George for giving endowments, under the direction of President Young; since The rules are written for our guidance in all future time, I feel very strenuously that in giving Endowments we should all work alike, and not deviate from the written word. (Wilford Woodruff letter to Logan Temple President Roskelley, June 8, 1887, Original in Church Historian’s Office, copies in Truth 1:34-35, and Truth 16:42)

No jot, iota, or tittle of the temple rites is otherwise than uplifting and sanctifying. In every detail the endowment ceremony contributes to covenants of morality of life, consecration of person to high ideals, devotion to truth, patriotism to nation, and allegiance to God. (James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord (1962), p. 100.)

As temple work progresses, some members wonder if the ordinances can be changed or adjusted. These ordinances have been provided by revelation, and are in the hands of the First Presidency. Thus, the temple is protected from tampering(Grant Bangerter, executive director of the Temple Department and a member of the First Quorum of Seventy, Deseret News, Church Section, January 16, 1982)

In the creation the Gods entered into an agreement about forming this earth, and putting Michael or Adam upon it. These things of which I have been speaking are what are termed the mysteries of godliness but they will enable you to understand the expression of Jesus, made while in Jerusalem, “This is life eternal that they might know thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” . . . Adam was an immortal being when he came on this earth; he had lived on an earth similar to ours; he had received the Priesthood and the keys thereof, and had been faithful in all things and gained his resurrection and his exaltation, and was crowned with glory, immortality and eternal lives, and was numbered with the Gods for such he became through his faithfulness. And had begotten all the spirits that was [sic] to come to this earth. And Eve our common mother who is the mother of all living bore those spirits in the celestial world. And when this earth was organized by Elohim, Jehovah and Michael, who is Adam our common father, Adam and Eve had the privilege to continue the work of progression. Consequently they came to this earth and commenced the great work of forming tabernacles for those spirits to dwell in. And when Adam and those that assisted him had completed this kingdom, our earth, he came to it, and slept and forgot all and became like an infant child . . .  Adam and Eve when they were placed on this earth were immortal beings with flesh, bones and sinews. But upon partaking of the fruits of the earth while in the garden and cultivating the ground their bodies became changed from immortal to mortal beings with the blood coursing through their veins as the action of life . . .  Father Adam’s oldest son (Jesus the Savior), who is the heir of the family, is father Adam’s first begotten in the spirit world, who according to the flesh is the only begotten as it is written.  (Part of the “Lecture at the Veil” in the former LDS Endowment ceremony.  Diary of L. John Nuttall, February 7, 1877.  Brother Nuttall wrote down this lecture under the direction and supervision of President Young)

Brother Horne and I chatted again tonight about the Gospel and the Adam-God Doctrine, as we have done many times before. Brother Horne, who grew up in Salt Lake City and was the son of Richard Horne and grandson of Joseph Horne, said – in reference to the Adam-God Doctrine – that when he first went through the (Salt Lake) Temple for his Endowment in 1902 before going on his mission he was surprised to hear the teachings during the Temple ceremony that ‘Adam was our God’ and that ‘He came here with Eve, one of His wives’. Also, it was taught that ‘Eve bore our spirits’. He asked his father about it but he declined to give any opinion about it. After Brother Horne returned from his mission a few years later, in 1905, he noted these teachings had been removed from the Temple ceremony. (C. Jess Groesbeck’s Elders Journal, Vol. 1:291)




(The above inscription was formerly posted in clear view of all patrons in each LDS temple.  The placards were removed during the administration of President Grant)

Salt Lake Tribune article on alteration of Holy Garment: Monday Morning, June 4, 1923:

Temple Garments Greatly Modified – Church Presidency Gives Permission – Style Change Optional With Wearer – Coming not as an order, nor as a rule to be rigidly enforced, but rather permissive in character, is a recent outgiving of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It concerns the garments worn by members of the church who have been married in the temple, or who have participated in other ceremonies performed or rites observed therein.

While minor modifications of the temple garment, it is said, have been made at various times during past years, the latest order in permission is regarded by younger members of the church as most liberal and acceptable.  Among the older membership the optional change is variously received. Some of the pioneer stock look upon any deviation from the old order as a departure from what they had always regarded as an in-violable rule. Others of long standing in the church accept the change as a progressive move intended to add to personal comfort.

Old Style Uncomfortable

In the old days the temple garment was made of plain, unbleached cotton cloth. Unbleached linen was as far afield in “finery” as the devotee was permitted to go. No buttons were used on the garment. Tape tie-strings took their place. The garment itself was uncomfortably large and baggy.  But despite these imperfections, the old-style garment is faithfully adhered to by many of the older, and sincerely devout members of the church. These regard the garment as a safeguard against disease and bodily harm, and they believe that to alter either the texture of cloth or style, or to abandon the garment altogether would bring evil upon them.

One good woman of long membership in the church, hearing of the change, that has recently come about, went to the church offices and uttered fervid objection.  “I shall not alter my garments, even if President Grant has ordered me to do so. My garments now are made as they were when I was married in the endowment house long before the temple was built. The pattern was revealed to the Prophet Joseph and Brother Grant has no right to change it,” she said.

Explanation was made that the first presidency had merely issued permission to those who so desired to make the modifying change; that any member of the church who preferred to adhere to the original style was at perfect liberty to do so.

President Charles W. Penrose says that modification of the garment Is elective with each individual member of the church who has gone through the temple. The change in style is permitted for various good reasons, chief among which are promotion of freedom of movement in the body and cleanliness.  Formerly the sleeves were long, reaching to the wrists.  While doing housework the women would roll up the sleeves.  If sleeves were to be rolled up they might as  well be made short in the first place for convenience, it was argued.  Permission to abbreviate is now given, but it is not an order and is not compulsory, it is explained.

Is Generally Welcomed

Encasing the lower limbs the oldstyle garment reaches to the ankles and is looked upon by young members as baggy, uncomfortable and ungainly.  The young of the gentler sex complained that to wear the old style with the new and finer hosiery gave the limbs a knotty appearance.  It was embarrassing in view of the generally accepted sanitary shorter skirt.  Permission is therefore granted by the first presidency to shorten the lower garment. Also buttons are permitted to take the place of the tie-strings.

Young men of the church, especially those who take exercise or play games at gymnasiums, favor the shorter garment. The permission granted is hailed by them as a most acceptable and progressive one. Altogether, and except in few instances, the permissive modification is welcomed as a sanitary move and a change looking to the comfort and health of those who wear temple garments.

Instead of the old style, coarse, unbleached, irritating material of which temple garments were once made, the finer knitted goods, and even silks, are now used. These materials and modified styles are officially approved, but such alterations are optional with each individual, and by no means compulsory, church officials desire it understood.  (Salt Lake Tribune, 4 June 1923)