Washings And Anointings

Boyd K. Packer  (1924-2015) Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

From The Holy Temple (Salt Lake: Bookcraft, 1980), p.155)

The ordinances of washing and anointing are referred to often in the temple as initiatory ordinances. It will be sufficient for our purposes to say only the following: Associated with the endowment are washings and anointings-mostly symbolic in nature, but promising definite, immediate blessings as well as future blessings. Concerning these ordinances the Lord has said: "I say unto you, how shall your washings be acceptable unto me, except ye perform them in a house which you have built to my name?." (D&C 124:37.)

And again: "I say unto you, that your anointings, and your washings . . . are ordained by the ordinance of my holy house." (D&C 124:39.)

In connection with these ordinances, in http://eom.byu.edu/the temple you will be officially clothed in the garment and promised marvelous blessings in connection with it. It is important that you listen carefully as these ordinances are administered and that you try to remember the blessings promised and the conditions upon which they will be realized.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols.  (New York: Macmillan Pub., 1992).

Washings and anointings are preparatory or initiatory ordinances in the temple. They signify the cleansing and sanctifying power of Jesus Christ applied to the attributes of the person and to the hallowing of all life. They have biblical precedents. Women are set apart to administer the ordinances to women, and men are set apart to administer the ordinances to men. Latter-day Saints look forward to receiving these inspired and inspiring promises with the same fervent anticipation they bring to baptism. They come in the spirit of a scriptural command: "Cleanse your hands and your feet before me" (D&C 88:74; cf. 1 John 2:27). A commemorative garment is given with these ordinances and is worn thereafter by the participant. (4:1444-5)
Washing and Anointings Ritual anointings were a prominent part of religious rites in the biblical world. Recipients of the anointing included temple officiants (Ex. 28:41), prophets (1 Kgs. 19:16), and kings (1 Sam. 16:3; 1 Kgs. 1:39). In addition, sacral objects associated with the Israelite sanctuary were anointed (Ex. 30:22-29). Of equal importance in the religion of the Israelites were ablutions or ceremonial washings (Ex. 29:4-7). To ensure religious purity, Mosaic law required that designated individuals receive a ritual washing, sometimes in preparation for entering the temple (Ex. 30:17-21; Lev. 14:7-8; 15:5-27).

The washings and anointings of the biblical period have a parallel today in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In response to a commandment to gather the saints and to build a house "to prepare them for the ordinances and endowments, washings, and anointings" (TPJS, p. 308), these ordinances were introduced in the Kirtland Temple on January 21, 1836 (HC 2:379-83). In many respects similar in purpose to ancient Israelite practice and to the washing of feet by Jesus among his disciples, these modern LDS rites are performed only in temples set apart and dedicated for sacred purposes (D&C 124:37-38; HC 6:318-19).

Many symbolic meanings of washings and anointings are traceable in the scriptures. Ritual washings (Heb. 9:10: D&C 124:37) symbolize the cleansing of the soul from sins and iniquities. They signify the washing-away of the pollutions of the Lord's people (Isa. 4:4). Psalm 51:2 expresses the human longing and divine promise: "Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin" (cf. Ps. 73:13; Isa. 1:16).

The anointing of a person or object with sacred ointment represents sanctification (Lev. 8:10-12) and consecration (Ex. 28:41), so that both become "most holy" (Ex. 30:29) unto the Lord. In this manner, profane persons and things are sanctified in similitude of the messiah (Hebrew "anointed one"), who is Christ (Greek "anointed one").  (4:1551)