Saturday, March 8, 2008

Are Temples Secret?

Richard Bushman spoke at Weber University last Wednesday. Bushman is the author of Rough Stone Rolling, the well-received biography of Joseph Smith. He is an active Mormon who, because of his testimony and scholarly credentials, is able to be fairly candid about the Church without running afoul of the powers that be.

I haven’t seen the text of his speech but it was covered in the Deseret News’ just-rolled-out online portal – The Mormon Times. Reporter Holly Farmer writes:

While some members will claim that Mormon temples are ‘sacred not secret,’ Bushman said that ‘temples are secret, plain and simple,’ noting that even members ‘don't speak to each other about it.' "

I was surprised to see Bushman put the smackdown on the widely held belief, but I applaud his pluck and common sense. I have heard it said many times that what goes on in the temple is not secret, it’s sacred. While I don’t agree with that statement, my sense is that most Mormons do. Bushman’s assertion was not well received by some Deseret News readers. One person, called Utah Valley Resident, said

Just a comment on Dr Bushman's purported speech item, where he says, that what goes on in LDS temples is secret, is simply untrue, and he knows it. What goes on in LDS temples is sacred and the specifics of what transpires in them is not to be openly discussed by the qualified members who are admitted to these holy edifices outside of these precincts. They can be spoken of freely inside of these buildings in appropriate conversations. If what he meant by his comments that these matters cannot be spoken of freely outside of the temple, then he is correct. Any member who is unqualified to be granted admittance, or members of other faiths, who are also unqualified to enter dedicated temples are not privy to the ceremonies that occur inside of these sacred edifices. What occurs there in the sacred ceremonies inside temples are pure and simply sacred and are not to be discussed any other place in specific terms? (sic)”


I have two questions 1) is Bushman right – are temples secret and 2) why do many or perhaps most Mormons blanch when temples are described as secret?

30 comments:

Rubymainia said...

DO A POLL!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fifthgen said...

I don't want to talk about it.

Fifthgen said...

Oh, fine, I'll talk about it!

There is no reason, of course, that something can't be sacred AND secret. I think it is hard to argue that what goes on LDS temples is not secret. But this makes some people (in and outside the chrich) uncomfortable, because "secret" sometimes connotes shameful or sinister or something else bad. Maybe LDS Church PR should try and change its "sacred, not secret" apporach to talking about how temple cermonies are "esoteric" or "confidential" or something like that. Or maybe those words carry thier own baggage.

Mormons do not feel there is anything shameful or sinister about the temple experience. I think their concern is that the ceremonies and teachings they feel are sacred will be made light of (or worse) by those who do not share thier views. A quick survey of the internet demonstrates that this concern is not baseless.

Two additional thoughts. 1) Although I am no expert in world religions, I am sure that Mormons are not alone in having esoteric religious teachings and/or ceremonies. These often result in a little mystery and even resentment. And maybe that is because 2) I read an article Dialogue or something once about the power of a shared secret - - the bonding effect it has on a culture/society. This factor, and the concern over protecting the sacred from ridicule, is why Mormons treat the temple as secret and sacred.

Kfram said...

They aren't entirely secret - you can read about what goes on in them on wikipedia or any other website. Granted, no mormon will talk about what goes on, but you can certainly find out. And a lot of what's happening is based on the Mason's "secret happenings" because a lot of the church's early leaders were Masons.

jupee said...

1. Yes. Slamdunk. (Dictionary.com defines "secret" as 1. done, made, or conducted without the knowledge of others: secret negotiations.
2. kept from the knowledge of any but the initiated or privileged: a secret password.
3. faithful or cautious in keeping confidential matters confidential; close-mouthed; reticent.
4. designed or working to escape notice, knowledge, or observation: a secret drawer; the secret police.
5. secluded, sheltered, or withdrawn: a secret hiding place.
6. beyond ordinary human understanding; esoteric.
7. (of information, a document, etc.) a. bearing the classification secret.
b. limited to persons authorized to use information documents, etc., so classified.)

2. Because they've been to the temple and are therefore lighter, whiter and more pure. (I've seen this doctrine attributed to President McKay, I think.) Blanching is a celestial blush. It is the temple-goers response to being asked about the temple experience.

jupee said...

Oh, fine, I'll be serious!

I think the reason is that calling the temple ceremony "secret" makes Mormons feel misunderstood. And they (like all of us) want to be understood. Mormons' emphasis is "sacred" and the "secret" is a secondary byproduct. It's like saying you married Skordalicious for the sex. Did you blanch? While it is true that you married her, in part, for the sex, the emphasis is on love. You married her because you loved her. The sex is secondary byproduct.

Sanford Barrett said...

kfram says

They aren't entirely secret - you can read about what goes on in them on wikipedia or any other website.

That’s a good point. The inner workings of the temple have made their way into the public domain, so arguably Temples are not secret anymore. But it is not because the Church doesn’t seek to maintain secrecy, but rather because the secret got out.

Fifthgen says

There is no reason, of course, that something can't be sacred AND secret.

I absolutely agree with that. I don’t see the combination on the two as a detriment to one’s religious experience.

Jupee says

Because they've been to the temple and are therefore lighter, whiter and more pure. (I've seen this doctrine attributed to President McKay, I think.) Blanching is a celestial blush. It is the temple-goers response to being asked about the temple experience.
Very clever and mischievous.

Jupee also says

Mormons feel misunderstood. And they (like all of us) want to be understood.

Yes, I think Mormons want others to understand how sacred the Temple is to them and the term secret undermines their attempt to convey their Temple experience. But I also think a frank acknowledgment of its secret nature would give credibility and ultimately serve the Church better.

rubymania says

DO A POLL!!!!!!!!!

Patience my little one.

Anonymous said...

They're freaking bizarre, that's what they are. I'm convinced the reason my parents played the "secret" card until the day I walked inside was they knew I'd freak out and let go of the iron rod had I known what lay ahead inside the pillow with the carrot on top. I recall in the dressing room, before the big show started, I saw a guy in what appeared to be a baker's cap, so I naturally assumed he worked in the cafeteria. Little did I know that w/in two hours, I'd be a baker too!

But don't believe me; do a poll!

pb said...

Secret / sacred, whatever. The idea is to create a group identity. Same thing the ku klux klan does with its handshakes & code names. Is also the reason behind the dietary prohibitions that mormons and other religions glom onto. Helps to identify who is in and who is out. The dietary prohibitions send a public message to set the group apart from the heathen; the secret stuff allows insiders to feel special when they've achieved worthiness of the big secret, thus solidifying their loyalty to the group.

jupee said...

I wouldn't join any club who would have me as a member.

Fifthgen said...

Does secrecy, by itself, engender resentment? (This is a sincere question.) Is resentment and misunderstanding a "secondary byproduct" if esoteric religious practices?

Recognizing that many that are not LDS (or are formerly LDS) just don't care about the temple, why do some react so strongly? Do they not like the secrecy? Or do they just not like Mormons?

Many ethnic or religious groups that maintain some level of insularity also experience some level of animosity, and Mormons are surely not unique in having been singled out this way. But, (and I may not be objective here) it seems that it is somehow still PC to make fun of, or comment negatively about, things Mormon beliefs and practices (like the temple) in ways that would not be approved of if Jews or Catholics or Muslims or (fill in the blank) were the target group. Is the temple part of that?

jupee said...

fifthgen: Secrecy engenders resentment in virtually all contexts, doesn't it? (Obama's campaign is based in part on bringing an era of transparency to government, for example.) I may understand the reason for secrecy in some very limited contexts (i.e., doctor-patient, attorney-client), and I respect that, but on the whole I do not value secrecy because it makes me suspicious about motives. Other religions have high holy practices, but I have never been denied details upon inquiry, except for Mormons.

I think the temple is part of why Mormons seem to be less respected (is that the right characterization?) than other religious groups, but I also think Mormons' refusal to participate in what is considered normal American behavior is part of that too. That too sets them apart from Jews and Catholics (and if you add all of the prohibitions up, from most other mainstream religions). At least that is my anecdotal experience. I know quite a few Mormons, Jews (my boss is Jewish, my son's best friend is Jewish my minister was raised Jewish, to name a few) and Catholics. Of those groups, only the Mormons maintain secrecy about their religious practices and only the Mormons practice dietary restrictions and Sabbath restrictions. None of our friends who identify themselves as Jewish are kosher or strictly observe Shabot. None of friends who identify themselves as Jewish or Catholic are unavailable for large blocks of time (all day Sunday and Monday night for example) due to their religion. However, all of our friends who identify themselves as Mormon (other than a couple, who do not wear garments or attend the temple) practice dietary restrictions and have real time restrictions. Mormons are more different in a denser way. And their explanations can be patronizing and/or condesending. This secret/sacred thing is an example.

Kfram said...

jupee-

I know Muslims who strictly obey dietry expectations - fasting for a month, etc. I know Catholics who don't eat meat on Friday. Mormons aren't the only ones with these restrictions - but then again - they might be the only ones who are looked down upon for if they don't follow the 'guidelines. Am I making any sense?

jupee said...

kfram: I don't disagree with what you saying. But, my statements are based on my personal experience. I am familiar with those practices, but I don't personally know anyone who observes them. But, I know a lot of Mormons who do. I wonder if my experience is common or provincial? Plus, you know people who fast for a month? That's interesting. How do they do that? Also, eating fish on Fridays is one thing. Following the D&C restrictions is a lot more than that. At some point, it seems like you hit a "tipping point." Eating fish on friday doesn't get you there. Eating fish on Friday, believing you are eating Christ on Sunday and never using any birth control, gets you closer. But I don't know any Catholics who take it that far.

Sanford Barrett said...

Pb says

The idea is to create a group identity.

And

Jupee says

I think the temple is part of why Mormons seem to be less respected (is that the right characterization?) than other religious groups, but I also think Mormons' refusal to participate in what is considered normal American behavior is part of that too.

I think that over time the Church has opted to participate in normal American behavior by abandoning some its more exotic practices i.e. polygamy, consecration of property, open advocacy of blood atonements and others. These changes have lessened the Church’s oddity factor tremendously as evidenced by growth rates and member prominence (remember a guy named Mitt). But in watering down its practices (and perhaps beliefs) the Church has had to cling to other distinguishers to prop up its uniqueness. Pb points to the Word of Wisdom. A perfect of example of this. The Temple on the other hand hasn’t really been watered down much. It is an area of practice and belief which the Church has thus far refused to substantially modify is in order to seem normal. It is where assimilation stops and uniqueness holds.

Fifthgen said...

jupee: I completely understand suspicision over secrets about something that affects me, like secrets withheld from me by my own government. I have a harder time understanding suspision about someone else's private life or religious practice that does not affect me. Why should that be a basis for suspicision or disrespect? Curiosity I get, but resentment and disrespect?

As I said, I am no expert on comparative religions, and I do not know if Mormons really do have more "secrets" than all other religions, although I am skeptical. I not think, however, that your comparison of Jews or Catholics that do not closely hadhere to the prescribed teachings of their religions to Mormons who do (i.e., the garment-wearing, temple attending set) is very helpful. Like kfram, I know members of other religions with distinctive religious practices (not good, old, normal American behavior). And, I know plenty of Mormons (at least I consider them Mormons) who do not observe Mormon dietary restrictions, the Sabbath, etc. But I am not sure what that all tells us. (The less religious are more accepted than the highly religious?). I have a hard time believing, though, that your average, temple attending Mormon stands out more in American society than an Orthodox Jew or a devout Muslim or Buddhist. They probably also face some "disrespect" for "refusing to participate in what is considered normal American behavior." I find that interesting. And I guess a little sad.

Fifthgen said...

pb: Is "the power of a shared secret" and "the bonding effect [a shared secret] has on a culture/society" the same as the "secret stuff [that] allows insiders to feel special when they've achieved worthiness of the big secret, thus solidifying their loyalty to the group." ? Just without the dismissive tone?

And what's with the comparison to the KKK?

kframpton said...

wow...there are really a lot of opinions. I am not sure that I belong in this conversation...

everything that i would want to say has been said and then objected to

jupee said...

fifthgen: I hear you. I think we've explored that issue, huh? And trust me, I am way sad that we disrespect the "different," given how "different" I am. Sigh.

On the secrecy front, that stuff is not strictly personal. It's group secrecy. It affects those who know Mormons. It's like being an associate during a partner's meeting. Didn't you kind of resent that? A couple of examples: I did not get to see my sister get married. My Dad can't talk to me about some of the reasons that he is so committed to his belief system and he has indicated that he would really like to, but those concepts are too sacred/secret. Doesn't that seem strange to you? My own father feels constrained? Before the internet, I wondered why. I guess technically I'm not being hurt, but I would never exclude someone (family, my children, close friends) from important aspects/life-guiding principles in my life (the temple experience is very important to my sister and my dad) no matter how sacred I considered my beliefs to be. I do not feel that that is "right," helpful or appropriate. I don't understand the concept of something being so sacred that you can't talk about it with people you love, even if they disagree. I've learned to distance myself and say . . . That's coo. Cho life. Cho religion. I do not consider myself to be someone who has a problem with Mormons. But, I can understand why some people would. I bet you can too. P.S. I LOVE fifthgen and kfram and Sanford Barrett and rubymania. (My love for pb goes without saying --although she did seem a little Geraldine Ferraro in that last comment.)

pb said...

fifthgen: yes, but you say it so much nicer.

The problem with the bonding effect of a shared secret is that a secret is by definition exclusive. Bonding around a secret therefore promotes and encourages a dichotomy between those who are in the know and those who are not. Dichotomous thinking, in turn, is the source of all conflict, from war, to bickering between my children, to squabbling between hillaryites and obamanons. While the secret code may help to promote bonding within the group, it deepens the divisions between the group and others. This is especially the case when the code is defined in terms of what is "moral" and "immoral" or what is "worthy" or "unworthy". Not to drop names or anything, but Buddha never spoke in these terms. He instead spoke of what is "skillful" and "unskillful". A skillful practice is one that helps us to live in a state of connectivity with all beings. The practice that I would advocate for others (while not practicing myself) would be one that increases connectivity. If adherence to a secret code does that for some people, then great. But my guess is that adherence to a secret code only promotes that connected feeling with people within the group, while increasing the divisions with people outside the group. Division rooted in group adherence to a secret code is especially painful when it occurs within families. That's Jupee's experience. I feel her pain.

Jupee: was that good, girl?

On the KKK: pb is absolutely not sorry for what pb said. You are only attacking me to hurt this blog and I'm not going to let you do that. I am therefore resigning, effective immediately.

jupee said...

pb: Good? Radical.

peace out, jupee

Sanford Barrett said...

kframpton says

wow...there are really a lot of opinions. I am not sure that I belong in this conversation...
everything that i would want to say has been said and then objected to

Come on kframpton -- this discussion/street brawl is open to all comers. Wind up and swing. As Pat Benatar would say -- hit me with your best shot.

Sanford Barrett said...

Ok – so I started this thread by asking are temples secret? I guess that’s a no brainer in the affirmative because the question responders seem to be tussling over now is this – is temple secrecy a good or a bad thing? If I understand the tag team of jupee and pb, they think that temple secrecy is innately wrong because it is exclusive rather than inclusive and is divisive as a result. Fifthgen, I think, might not disagree but would argue that temple goers are consenting adults and they should be able to live their religion as they please -- and what’s more, lots of religions have practices which set them apart and we don’t beat on them. Hmmmm. If I had answers to stuff like this I probably wouldn’t feel the need to blog my questions. I sort of think both sides are right. Is that weak or what.

Fifthgen said...

Is it dichotomous thinking to suggest that my religion is better than yours because I don't like what your religion does? Or I prefer the way mine does it?

I see your point: Secrets are by definition exclusive. I agree. And I can see that any secret has the potential to create division and even pain. Secrets might be particularly difficult in a situation involving family/friends. Or maybe the family/friends are better equipped to understand the reasons and needs for the secret.

So what is the solution? No secrets? Ever? Or just none that make anyone feel uncomfortable? Or none that deviate from normal American behavior?

Perhaps we need a National Commission on Uniform American Religious Pratices that could approve and report on what everyone does. There would then be no secrets and everyone would be connected and happy.

Seriously, it is a difficult, complicated problem that requires effort, sensitivity and understanding on all sides. I believe Mormons want to be treated that way. And if they don't treat others that way, they should.

Of course, I love you all.

jupee said...

sanfordbarrett: Very skillful, young Buddha.

fifthgen: Could your National Commission impose some sort of viewing room for wedding ceremonies? People who are not "temple worthy" (I think I've used the correct phrase there, haven't I?) could watch the ceremony live, but with a five minute delay and the Commission could filter/bleep-out the secrets (like the FCC does for live television)? That way the secrets would be safe (or kept sacred) and I could feel like I was actually there with the rest of the invited family and friends. Or, maybe the Mormons could let the ceremony/celebration of the union be public and the secret/sacred stuff be between the bride and groom and god (or god's proxy) in the temple. It could happen.

Fifthgen said...

Jupee: Of course! Anything would be possible! The Commission could alter any religion's practices to conform to normal American behavior. It would be awsome! We would all be the same and no one would ever have to feel uncomfortable. They could even implement Lennon's "Imagine" as the National Hymn.

jupee said...

Righteous.

Puolustaja said...

1. Is Bushman right -- are temples secret?
2. Why do Mormons blanch when temples are called secret?

In reponse to Sanford’s to questions and various other comments:

Asking whether temples are secret is really a matter of semantics.
Technically, by some of the dictionary.com definitions, yes
temples are secret. But, I think sacred is a more apt description than secret. Secret implies concealment or hiding and has synonyms like
clandestine, covert, surreptitious, furtive, and underhanded. Sacred
implies something that is worthy of veneration and respect. The reason
Mormons blanch is because calling their sacred ceremonies secret implies
something sinister that needs to be hidden from the general public.
That's why I think Bushman is wrong to call temples secret. It may seem
like a bromide, but “sacred not secret” (like many other maxims) has more
sagacity than it would appear at first (or 700th) blush.

Temples aren't secret - they are open to anyone who is willing to meet the
requirements to enter. The requirements aren't arbitrary, capricious or
discriminatory in any way. The requirements to enter the temple are publicly
available. I would have a problem if in order to participate in temple
ordinances, the Church required people to be over six feet tall or to have an IQ of 150 or required any other admission standard that was beyond a person’s control, but that's not the case. The temple is available is to anyone who chooses to comply with the admission requirements. How secret can it be if anyone who, for the right reasons and in good faith, complies with the requirements can enter?

Bushman is again wrong when he uses the fact that members don’t speak about temples with each other as evidence for the fact that they are secret. The reason that members don’t speak about it with each other outside the temple is because it is sacred not because it’s a secret. If members have knowledge about the inner workings of the temple but don’t speak about to each other it’s not because it’s a secret because it isn’t a secret between members because they already know what the supposed secret is, thereby making it by definition not a secret (if that makes any sense). A much better explanation is that members don’t speak about it outside the temple is because it is too sacred to speak about outside of the temple.

In Doctrine and Convenants 63:64 the Lord says “Remember that that which cometh from above is sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit . . . .” The reason temples aren’t spoken of freely is not because the powers that be sat down in a room and decided that they needed to protect these secrets from the outside world, but rather because the Lord has commanded us not to “trifle with sacred things” and give things that are sacred their proper respect. By encouraging members not to speak of the temple outside the church, church leaders are 1) following the directive of the Savior; 2) helping people to realize and reinforce the importance and sacred nature of the temple ordinances; and 3) trying to prevent the sacred things of the Lord from being mocked by those who don’t have a proper foundation to understand (ie casting your pearls before swine).

It would be one thing if the temple were the only thing that was off limits to talk about, but it isn’t. Elder Oaks said “Visions do happen. Voices are heard from beyond the veil. This I know. But these experiences are exceptional. And those who have exceptional experiences rarely speak of them publicly because we are instructed not to do so (see D&C 63:64) and because we understand that the channels of revelation will be closed if we show these things before the world.” We are counseled not to share exceptional personal experiences not because they are secret but because some experiences are too sacred to share even to close family members unless prompted to do so by the Holy Spirit.

In summary, anything that is sacred and worthy of veneration and respect needs to spoken of with great care. Whether it be the temple, personal revelation or anything else. Doing so allows us to receive greater light and knowledge in the future. Thus, despite what Bushman says, we don’t speak openly the temple because it is sacred not because it is some kind of secret.

Sorry about the length for anyone who labored through this whole post.

Sanford Barrett said...

Puolustaja – thank you for taking time to give a well thought out response to my question. I’m glad someone took issue with Bushman because I want to consider both sides of the issue.

I agree with much of what you said but as you might expect I came to different conclusions. Here is my response to some of your points.

Poulustaja says

The reason Mormons blanch is because calling their sacred ceremonies secret implies
something sinister that needs to be hidden from the general public.
That's why I think Bushman is wrong to call temples secret.

I agree that is why Mormons blanch. But I think Church members should just get used to using the term. I think that non-Mormons see the Temple as secret and our attempts to describe it otherwise are counter-productive. In choosing to reject their perception, we set ourselves up for an argument over sacred vs. secret that we aren’t going to win. Non-Mormons just don’t get the sacred secret distinction. They think we are being cute or even disingenuous and we lose credibility. I would have outsiders see us a secretive rather than dishonest.

Poulustaja says

Temples aren't secret - they are open to anyone who is willing to meet the requirements to enter.
It seems like what you are saying is that Temples aren’t secret because anyone can get in on the secret. But just because you can learn a secret doesn’t mean it’s not a secret to begin with. Are Masonic rites secret? They are to me. Now if I became a Mason, I would experience their rites and they would no longer be secret – but it’s secret to me for now.

Poulustaja says

How secret can it is if anyone who, for the right reasons and in good faith, complies with the requirements can enter?

Again, just because you can learn a secret doesn’t mean it isn’t a secret before it is passed on to you.

Poulustaja says

The reason that members don’t speak about it with each other outside the temple is because it is sacred not because it’s a secret.

Is it not fair to say that Mormons are prohibited from discussing the Temple ceremony outside of the Temple? Doesn’t that go beyond being careful not to cast you pearls before swine (a statement by the way that is almost guaranteed to generate ill will with non-members) and move into the territory of secrecy? If I understand you, you are saying that Mormons are counseled to use discretion when sharing sacred events, but they don’t have discretion to discuss the Temple ceremony. To me that shows that there is a different between sacred Temple matters and sacred non-Temple matters. One you can share and the other you can’t. One is sacred but not secret; the other is sacred and secret.

Poulustaja says

In summary, anything that is sacred and worthy of veneration and respect needs to spoken of with great care.

I have no problem with that.

Puolustaja said...

Sanford says:

"But I think Church members should just get used to using the term. I think that non-Mormons see the Temple as secret and our attempts to describe it otherwise are counter-productive."

Church members shouldn’t get used to using an inapt description. I don’t think it’s generally productive to use secret because it is inaccurate and perpetuates the idea of concealment. It’s the same with baptisms for the dead and baptizing the dead, there is a big difference between the two. Church members should take the opportunity to explain what it means to perform a baptism on someone’s behalf and to explain why we don’t speak openly about the temple rather than just take the easy road and fail to correct the misinformation. I don’t think correcting misperceptions is counterproductive. I would argue the opposite, perpetuating inaccurate stereotypes, characterizations or perceptions of the temple is what’s counterproductive.

Sanford says:

"But just because you can learn a secret doesn’t mean it’s not a secret to begin with."

True. But by the same token, just because you don’t know something doesn’t mean it’s a secret. I don’t know who won the 1983 NCAA basketball tournament. Is that a secret? It is within the power of anyone who wants to learn who won in the tourney in 1983 and to go to the temple.

Sanford says:

"Is it not fair to say that Mormons are prohibited from discussing the Temple ceremony outside of the Temple? Doesn’t that go beyond being careful not to cast you pearls before swine (a statement by the way that is almost guaranteed to generate ill will with non-members) and move into the territory of secrecy?"

Yes, it is fair to say that Mormons are prohibited from discussing the specifics outside the temple. There is actually more that can be spoken of in general terms than most members realize, but that’s beside the point.

Let’s assume for purposes of this argument that there is a secret that only you and I know and we cannot discuss it with anyone. Additionally, we can only discuss it with each other if we are at Rice-Eccles Stadium. The reason we can’t discuss it with anyone else is because it is secret and we don’t want them to know about it. However, there has to be a different reason as to why we can only discuss it in a certain location. If you and I both know the secret, doesn’t it, by definition, cease to be a secret as between you and I? It can’t be because we don’t want the other to know because the other person already knows, so there has to be a different reason.

Similarly, the temple is not a secret between members because they all have the same information. I suppose you could say that by not sharing with those of other faiths Church members are keeping a secret from non-members, but how can you make the argument that they are keeping a secret from other members? If I don’t discuss something confidential with someone who isn’t privy to that information it is likely the reason is because it is confidential or because it’s a secret. If I don’t discuss confidential information with someone who has the same confidential information it is likely due to a reason other than the information’s confidentiality or secret nature. Thus, I think it’s a specious argument to use members reticence to discuss the temple with other members (outside of the temple) as evidence of secrecy.

As for the pearls before swine comment, yes, it likely to engender ill-will, but it is a good chance to explain what the phrase means and you would think it would also generate at least a few more comments on the blog ;) Just trying to increase traffic so you can increase your advertising revenue.

Sanford says:

"If I understand you, you are saying that Mormons are counseled to use discretion when sharing sacred events, but they don’t have discretion to discuss the Temple ceremony. To me that shows that there is a different between sacred Temple matters and sacred non-Temple matters. One you can share and the other you can’t. One is sacred but not secret; the other is sacred and secret."

I think you make a very good point. This may be where practicality and pragmatism come into play. There is no way to set a bright line rule regarding which personal revelations are too sacred to openly discuss. There is no other option then to educate members on what should and shouldn’t be shared. With temple ceremonies, it is easy to set a bright line and rule and tell the members specifically “this is too sacred to discuss.” The temple ceremony is the same for everyone, personal revelation is not. Therefore, it’s possible to be specific with the prohibition with one and not the other.

I realize that a lot of the secret/sacred argument is semantics. Sure, it’s fair to say that the temples ceremonies are a secret to the uninitiated. But, I still think it’s better to use to sacred because it gives members the chance to explain to those outside the faith that we don’t talk openly about the temples because it is sacred and holy, not because we are trying to hide some or be exclusive.