When I was twenty I went to the LDS temple for what is called an endowment. In Mormon lingo, the endowment is where you receive your “spiritual gifts”, that enable you to pass the sentinels and enter the presence of god. Washed and anointed with oil, pronounced clean and blessed to be a “king and a priest unto the most high god, to rule and reign in the house of Israel forever” The endowment ceremony is about an hour and a half where you rehash the creation!story and make various covenants that are sworn to secrecy with signs, special handshakes, and followed by an oath to never reveal the signs and tokens or suffer your life to be taken. As you made the oath, you symbolically slit your own throat in one phase, and disembowel yourself in the other. All the while wearing the robes of the priesthood and a fig leaf apron to cover your nakedness.
Besides having to agree to all the covenants by acting out a blood oath it happens BEFORE YOU EVEN KNOW WHAT THEY ARE. It was shockingly strange, but you move along to the veil and use those key words, signs, and tokens to pass through and enter the presence of god in the “celestial ” room. Hushed tones and reverence rule, and discussing these things is vague and symbolic in nature. Everyone around you congratulating you and telling you how wonderful it is. It wasn’t. But, trusting those that have gone on before, convinced that you just lack understanding, and being reassured that the more times you go (the next times in behalf of the deceased that missed this opportunity) the more you understand the wonderful significance of it all.
To anyone who thinks this is even remotely normal, you have a problem. The ceremony now, some 35 years later, has been dumbed down to be less offensive, but the one I went through had already been lightened several times before. The initial ceremony was vastly more ghastly, but as times changed, so did people’s ability to tolerate it. While some fought the changes, apparently god is changing how important this is to have it exactly right.
Mormon culture is a persuasive closed system, where open criticism is the road to apostasy, and questions about anything inside the approved doctrines are unwelcome.
In most cases (mine being extremely rare where my wife left with me) the mere mention of unbelief deems you an outcast, failing your priesthood and your family. Tell your wife and extended family you don’t believe, and you are told to pray, study, do not doubt, trust me, trust us, and the fear of hell from denying your testimony, losing every friend, spouse, kids, and practically every sense of your life is on the chopping block. I have one friend left after 50 years of church. But it was worth it.