This question was answered in detail on the Mormon Stories Podcast, episode 1669: mormonstories.org/podcast/temple-masonry/. In a nutshell, shortly after being initiated into Freemasonry, Joseph Smith claimed to have had a revelation for the Endowment ritual, which borrowed heavily / outright stole from Masonic ritual. While Joseph Smith claimed the Endowment was revealed and was a restoration of ancient ritual, his claims are completely false. There is literally no evidence to back up the claims that the Endowment ritual has ancient origins. It was never part of Christian (or pre-Christian) teachings. The Temple ceremony (the Endowment) has been changed over the years, most recently in 1990 following a survey taken in Utah wherein members provided input as to parts they were uncomfortable with. Parts removed in 1990 were mimicking throat-slitting, cutting open one’s chest, and slitting open one’s bowels rather as penalties for revealing the names, signs (ritual gestures), and tokens (handshakes) given to the participant. The penalties were removed in 1990. When I received the Endowment for myself in the Mesa, Arizona Temple in December, 1988, I did the penalties. I also performed the penalties nearly 100 times, acting as proxy for many of my dead ancestors. If you want to geek out about the Endowment ceremony changes, check out ldsendowment.org/.
1) Mormon temple rites are not necessary. Our lives are our covenants with God (not our words, accompanied by a Masonic handshake). Does God only honor our lives of virtue if we made a promise in an LDS temple, or if we are dead and someone living by proxy did so in our name? God is omnipotent and provides for our salvation and for our connections in the next life. God doesn't need humans doing the work of salvation for other humans.
2) the temple ceremony has changed over time:
a) "Oath of Vengeance" (to avenge the blood of JS) -- removed in early 1900s
b) "Blood Oath" (to cut your own throat, sign made of thumb across neck) if you reveal the temple ceremony -- removed in 1990 (sign, but language remained)
c) Women covenanting directly with God (used to covenant w/their husbands, who covenanted w/God) -- changed in 2019. By nature before, a woman was incomplete w/out the man
d) there used to be a "Protestant Choir" (temple patrons as live actors) singing protestant songs led by a protestant preacher (a temple patron actor) as part of the endowment ceremony. It was a jab at protestants and the idea of "we're the right way."
The bottom line is God is omnipotent; God doesn't need living humans to baptize for dead humans. There is only one mention in the Bible about baptisms for the dead and it was Paul talking about resurrection, saying "look at those people that do baptisms for the dead, even they believe in resurrection." Paul wasn't advocating for it, he was referencing a group of early Christians practicing it, saying even they believe in resurrection. If Paul thought baptisms for the dead were necessary, you can bet he would have preached for the practice.
Joseph was likely speculating about that one scripture in the entire Bible that mentions baptisms for the dead (mentions it, doesn't preach for it), and Joseph prefaces in D and C that he was pondering about his brother Alvin, who did not receive baptism (the protestant and Catholic view of the time is you'd go to hell w/out it) -- and that's what he came up with.
4) the church is building smaller temples to promote what it wants: "worthy," temple-recommend holding members (tithe payers, active in church, keeping the rules). temples also require a lot of volunteers. A religion needs an icon and place of spiritual significance. the church will promote temples more and more, as the necessary ordinances to get to heaven and the only way to be together forever (what is stronger psychological sauce than your family?) Temples are extremely beautiful, like the conference center or tabernacle, like cathedrals, they naturally imbue awe and wonder -- man's noble monuments as an ode to God. But does God want a $50m building with "Holiness To The Lord" enscribed on it? What did Jesus do at the expensive Herodian temple? What did Jesus teach us to the answer to the question, "wherein have we served you Lord," and he answered, "when you've served the least of mankind" (the marginalized). Our lives in serving the poor, in being devoted to the marginalized - are the key. there is no litearlism, no absolutism (handshakes and secret rites) -- there is a Lived Walk With God.
Discernment questions to ask yourself: What is the relationship between Masonic temple ceremony and LDS temple ceremony? Is there correlation to a secret temple ceremony where the entrant covenants to cut his/her own throat if they divulge the secret, and Joseph and the leaders secretly practicing polygamy? Does God need humans to save humans? Is God not omnipotent? Is baptism symbolic or literal? Can we only make promises to God in an LDS temple? are our lives themselves our covenant with God? why is there only one mention (not preaching for) of baptisms for the dead in the Bible? Do we need underwear with Masonic symbols sewn into them to remind us to live with virtue? Is there a literal protection in that underwear? What interest does the church have in building smaller temples in more areas?
I liked the washing and anointing ceremony. I recall feeling loved and I liked the ritual of the body and mind being blessed. I wasn’t touched inappropriately. The rest of it is just a big ???
If all time and money dedicated to temple worship was spent on serving the living in local communities, the amount of good Mormons could do is incredible.
Why can’t I wear clothes for this? Was one thought I had. Touched by a stranger without verbal consent. Going into a ceremony without any preconceived idea of what I would agree to or do. Why do I have to veil my face is another, be separated from my husband, or so strange rituals and chants and handshakes. Promising to give myself to my husband while he receives me is indicative of polygamous eternity. So many sexist messages and rituals that are identical to Masonic temple ceremony, copied almost word for word.
Even so, I will say my experiences overall in the temple were positive. The psychological relief of making it was great, after prepping my entire life since infancy to gain entrance and be in the know. I felt privileged to reach a goal that both pleased my parents and most people I knew, AND gave me security in my eternal welfare. While in the temple, if you can dissociate enough, there are great conditions to feel uplifted. I like stepping away from the outside world, meditating and being in a beautiful clean place uninterrupted. Especially in contrast to the bombarding frenzied state of church callings, meetings routines and responsibilities that are required the other percentage of the time spent outside of the temple. It was only after analyzing deeper the content of the temple that I realized it was a sham.
Cultish. I do not understand how anyone follows the church after that. Also, the original ceremony was very masonic -- JS joined the masons and introduced the first endowment ceremony a few months later. The ceremony has been watered down over the years to be less scary to members. The underlying meaning, however, is still there. True believing mormons: compare notes on the first endowment of friends or family of different ages. I am confident that your accounts of the endowment will be different. Also: check your celestial name against this list: fullerconsideration.com/…