Recovery to Mormonism
Have you ever asked yourself where you come from? Have you ever wondered about life after death—if it exists, what it’ll be like if it exists? Have you ever wondered if family lasts beyond the grave?
President of the Church Gordon B. Hinckley has said, “The answers to these questions are not found in the wisdom of men. They are found only in the revealed word of God. Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are sacred structures in which these and other eternal questions are answered.”1
Mormon temples have been built all over the world. They’re not to be confused with regular meetinghouses—they can’t be confused with regular meetinghouses. Their purpose and function is different (as is their manner of construction). Meetinghouses are where weekly worship is held. Mormon temples are sacred buildings, dedicated to the Lord, where unique saving ordinances are performed.
And Gordon B. Hinckley also reaffirms that having sacred buildings in which to perform sacred ordinances is not a new concept. “This was the practice in ancient Israel, where the people worshipped regularly in the synagogues. Their more sacred place was, first, the tabernacle in the wilderness with its Holy of Holies, and then a succession of temples, where special ordinances were performed and where only those who met the required qualifications could participate in these ordinances.” 2
And, as in Moses’ time, not everyone can enter these holy places. Not all Mormons, even, can enter the Mormon temple after dedication. Mormons have to be living a certain standard to enter. This is not to keep people out—it’s to encourage people to live in such a way that they can come in. For temples are sacred, as is what is performed inside them. These are houses of God and the atmosphere must be sacred and reverent. Perhaps it is easier to see Mormon temples as a “a sanctuary similar to a monastery—or perhaps an ashram or kiva, depending on one’s tradition—where adherents focus undivided attention on attaining spiritual insight.” 3
Gordon B. Hinckley has said that “the work that goes on in these buildings sets forth God’s eternal purposes with reference to man, who is God’s child and creation.” And, in Mormon belief, families are extremely important—and Mormon temple work is concerned deeply with families, “with each of us as members of God’s eternal family and with each of us as members of earthly families.” 4 Within Mormon temples, we come to understand that marriage is eternal, as are family relationships.
“The married state is regarded as sacred, sanctified, and holy in all temple procedure; and within the House of the Lord the woman is the equal and the help-meet of the man.” 5 Divine blessings are given to both men and women—and those married in Mormon temples are married, sealed together, both for time and for all eternity. The blessing of the sealing gives us the assurance that the marriage, and the family that arises out of it, “will continue in eternity, provided they live worthy of that blessing.” 6
Besides eternal marriage, or the sealing, the endowment and baptism for the dead are also performed in Mormon temples. The endowment is an ordinance that is also a gift of knowledge and spiritual power—in this ordinance, Mormons make sacred covenants, as well. And why baptism for the dead? God is the God of both living and dead and He has made allowance for those that died without baptism to receive it in the next life. In fact, all temple ordinances can be performed by proxy, or in behalf of, people who have passed on. Members can stand in for deceased relatives, and even strangers, in these ordinances, giving the deceased the opportunity to accept or reject these ordinances done on their behalf. Indeed, President Hinckley teaches that, “In the spirit world these same individuals are then free to accept or reject those earthly ordinances performed for them.” 7 Because these are saving ordinances, in Mormon beliefs, even for the deceased, Mormons are concerned with searching out their ancestors and are earnestly involved in family history work.
The temple is a house of instruction, of covenants, of promises. And God makes promises in return—of His everlasting blessings. Within temples, members can commune with God. Within Mormon temples, members “set aside [their] own selfishness and serve for those who cannot serve themselves. Here, under the true priesthood power of God, [they] are bound together in the most sacred of all human relationships—as husbands and wives, as children and parents, as families under a sealing that time cannot destroy and death cannot disrupt.” 8
(1) Gordon B. Hinckley, “Why These Temples?” Tambuli, June 1992, 3
(2) “Why These Temples?”
(3) Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord: A Study of Holy Sanctuaries Ancient and Modern. 1912. Foreword.
(4) “Why These Temples?”
(5) Talmage, James E. The House of the Lord: A Study of Holy Sanctuaries Ancient and Modern. 1912. Chapter IV.
(6) “Why These Temples?”
(7) “Why These Temples?”
(8) “Why These Temples?”