Monday, July 14, 2008

Letting Your Temple Recommend Expire

I firmly believe that most gospel questions can be answered by an appeal to scripture, with modern revelation clarifying points. Our high councilman spoke to my ward yesterday and mentioned something, however, that I have been unable to clearly answer. He said, "If you let your temple recommend expire, those blessings are temporarily shelved." I believe "those blessings" to which he was referring were the blessings of the temple. It caught my attention, because I am not sure I understand what he was driving at or fully agree with what he said.

So, I did what I try to always do: research it in an attempt to gain understanding. I have found several talks from various sources that discuss temple recommends, but I haven't found anything that exactly resolves my confusion. It seems to me from the sources (listed below) that the temple recommend is a physical symbol of spiritual worthiness. One blessing the recommend provides is the ability to attend the temple. It is true that if we do not have a current recommend, we cannot enter the temple. That is certainly one blessing that is shelved. I feel that many blessings to which he was referring, including the protection of the covenants, are not shelved. Even if your recommend temporarily expires through inattention or inability to renew it for whatever logistical reason, you have still made the covenants. So long as you are living up to those covenants, you should receive the blessings of them.

What are your thoughts on this topic? There is very little chance for an appeal to authority or for him to explain what he meant by his quote, unfortunately. I would like to ponder it out until the Spirit can lead me to an answer. Others' perspectives on the issue would certainly help.

Women's Manual
Elder Nelson
Elder Robbins of the Seventy
President Hunter
President Hinckley


  1. Even without researching it, your observations seem right on to me. I think the High Counselor was just trying to light a fire under some in the congregation who might have benefited from the nudging. Perhaps he was referring more to an attitude than the actual shelving. As a former High Counselor I can't imagine ever saying such a thing.

    As a ward clerk I am a little bit exasperated by the number of lapsed recommends but almost all of them are due to something known to the bishop. Even those who frequent the temple often may go a few weeks after it expires before they renew. It's no big deal. When I was a counselor in the bishopric renewing recommends, I remember many good members who did not renew until a few months after the recommend lapsed.

    I cite as an example the thousands of faithful members serving in leadership capacities back in my mission days. They could only afford to go to the temple perhaps once or twice in their lifetimes. So they did not have current recommends, yet I know the Lord blessed their homes with the same blessings I enjoyed having just come from he temple.

    And what about missionaries in the old days when recommends were only good for one year? We did not have a temple in Central America when I served back in the 1970's. Did we put some of our blessings on the shelf because our recommend expired halfway through our missions? I don't think so. As long as we were living worthy of the blessings, then they were not shelved.

  2. All I can go by is something I heard several years ago, but I don't know the source. It was this that people who have no access to the temple are valiant at keeping a current temple recommend, are we as faithful.

    All thought I think you are right about the blessings of coventant, are correct, but what about that blessing of declaring to one of God's servants that we are worthy to attend the temple.

    What about those who's recommend is currently taken away, what blessings are with held from them?

    Something to consider in your question and search.

  3. This seems like something that falls under the speculation or personal opinion category, but it could depend on what blessings he was talking about. If it was about the blessings of attending the temple, then of course he's right. I experienced this recently when I went to the temple and found out that my recommend had expired (the bar code switchover had messed me up...I had recently had interviews, and had gone to the temple not long ago, so I had lost track of the expiration). No matter how worthy I was/am, or how much I felt the blessings of the temple and my covenants were still valid in my life (because I was still worthy), I could not for that brief time enter the temple and enjoy the very real blessings that come from being IN the temple.

  4. I remember conference talks about people in Africa (perhaps other locations too) where there was no temple and members had little hope of making it to the temple, yet it was important to them to have a temple recommend. This always impressed me.

    In a sense, having a current recommend is a way for us to honor the temple and our covenants and to show our priorities. There are many worse things that one can do than to allow their recommend to lapse, but I think in the vast majority of cases we can and should make an effort to keep our recommends current.

    Mine expires next month, so I need to get with the bishop soon....

  5. Also, in addition to the sources you cited, I liked this talk by Elder Joe J. Christensen:

    The end of the talk deals specifically with having a current recommend.

  6. Just one thing I wanted to add. Remember all of our covenants are renewed when we partake of the sacrament. Therefore the blessings that result from our covenants would be in effect if we are actively repenting and partaking of the sacrament.

    I think the speaker must have meant the blessing of entering the temple, which is huge, would not be available. Am I right in recalling that if you let it lapse you must see the bishop to renew but if it is a current renewal you can see a counselor? (forgive me we've been in a branch for a while and only the branch pres can do recommends) This could place an added burden on the bishop who, I think we would all agree, doesn't need more to do.

  7. Jendoop - that is true, as far as I know, that you have to see the bishop if it has lapsed. In my current situation, he wanted to see me anyways, though.

    I in no way am advocating letting your recommend expire on purpose, and I'm certain that the high councilman meant to either shake those in our ward endowed without a recommend into renewing or meant the blessings of entering the temple. From what I've picked up along the way, our ward has a pretty high endowed-no-current-recommend rate.

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I agree that we shouldn't let it lapse, but I think the thought of shelving all your blessings if you don't have a current recommend is a little harsh (if that's what the high councilman meant).

    I suppose it's not vitally important, and a lot depends on why you have let it lapse. If it's because you're not attending the temple or don't want to bother, then there is more to it than simply letting the date go over a bit.


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